One of four men accused of the gangrape of a Class 10 student in western UP's Meerut has been shot by police as he and his accomplice attempted to escape custody while being taken to court.
Police said the two accused - Lakhan and Vikas - were arrested earlier today and were being taken to court when they snatched a pistol from one of the policemen guarding them and tried to flee.
Police also said that in the encounter that followed - involving a team from Meerut Police's Surveillance Department and officers from the Sardhana Police Station - the two were pinned down near a village. Lakhan opened fire, and was then shot in his leg by the cops' return fire.
"Today both accused were being taken to court, when they escaped by grabbing the gun of a Police Inspector. A combing operation was launched... the accused opened fire on police. We returned fire and Lakhan was shot in his leg," Keshav Kumar, the Superintendent of Police (Rural), said.
Both accused have been re-captured, and Lakhan is being treated at a local hospital.
The young girl was allegedly gangraped by four men (two others are still on the run) on Thursday; her relatives also alleged she was forced to consume a poisonous substance that led to her death.
A FIR (first information report) filed by a family member said she left home at around 3.30 pm and returned by 5.15 pm, when she told her parents about the rape and assault.
The FIR also said the girl was rushed to a hospital but died during treatment.
Meerut Police have filed rape and other applicable charges, but have also confirmed the recovery of a suicide note from the girl's home. All possible angles are being probed, the police have said.
"As soon as we received a complaint, we registered a case and went to the scene. We found a suicide note at the home of the girl, which names a man called Lakhan and others. Two accused have been arrested. The main accused - Lakhan - used to go attend a tuition class with the girl," Mr Kumar said.
The young girl's death has also triggered a political row in a state that has been heavily criticised for a shocking spate of violent crimes against women and girls.
Samajwadi Party boss Akhilesh Yadav took a swipe at Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, suggesting he spend more time preventing crimes in his state than campaigning for the BJP in others.
"News of the kidnapping, gangrape and poisoning of a student in Uttar Pradesh's Sardhana (Meerut) is extremely sad... If star pracharakji (star campaigner) gets some free time... please consider this too. A lot of women have been tortured...," Mr Yadav tweeted in Hindi.