The alleged rape and murder of Sonam Ali, a 14 year minor girl, in Lakhimpur district of Uttar Pradesh is another shocking revelation of human rights violations. The girl’s body was found hanging from a tree near an under-construction block in Nighasan police station of the same district. The body was recovered last Friday.
Reports suggest that the girl stayed close to the station and had entered the premises to regain her strayed buffalo from that area. It was suspected that she was approached by the policemen. And when she did not return home, her mother went to seek police help. It was latter in the evening that Sonam's body was found in the same premise hanging from a tree.
Initially, the police tried to project it as a suicide while the mother accused the police men posted at this station of murder and rape. While 11 policemen were suspended the next day, police seemed to be contrived about its action. Those who were suspended include: two sub-inspectors, one head constable and eight constables.
The initial post-mortem of the girl prompted the police to make this a suicide case. It was only after a lot of condemnation from the centre, members of opposition and civil society that UP chief minister, Mayawati ordered another post-mortem by a panel of doctors from other districts. Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also sent a probe team after it took suo motu cognisance of media reports alleging that a teenage girl was raped and killed at police station.
The second post-mortem has revealed that the girl was murdered, but has ruled out rape. The three doctors who conducted the previous post-mortem have been suspended and a top police officer has been removed. Neither of the two post-mortems has discovered rape while officers are still trying to probe the rape angel.
Another important update that has come in the media is Sonam’s five year old brother Arman’s acknowledgment to the police that he saw her sister dragged inside the police station on Friday. He identified this man named Chander who with others beat his sister and strangled his sister.
Following this important lead, the police may arrest the three suspects named by Sonam’s father in the FIR. Watchman Intezam Ali, 41, had named station house officer Ravi Srivastava, sub-inspector Vinod Kumar Singh and head constable Surendra Pratap Singh.
While this case had already become a political battle ground among the UP govt., the Congress, the BJP and the SP; a major blow for the government when Sonam’s mother alleged that the family was offered Rs 5Lacs to keep mum and give vague statements. This led to the second post-mortem, and the action against the first panel of doctors, and the police official.