Maharashtra: Three young sisters raped, murdered, dumped in well

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Autopsies on the bodies of three sisters, who were found dead in a farm well over the weekend, have shown they were raped and murdered. Police have picked up two suspects who knew the girls.

Tanuja Borkar (11) and her sisters Prachi (9) and Priya (6) had gone missing from their village Murmadi in the Lakhni tehsil of Bhandara district on February 14. On February 16, their schoolbags and chappals were found near the well, and their bodies in it.

District SP Aarti Singh said, "The post mortem report has confirmed they were raped and then murdered." The report was received late Monday night.

Singh declined to confirm local suspicion that an enmity that the girls' family had with another family led to the murders. "The girls are survived by their mother and grandparents. The father died a few years ago. Nobody from the girls' family is talking of any old enmity. But we suspect this could be the work of acquaintances," she said.

SP Singh said the girls' mother works in a papad factory and the grandfather has a flour mill.

The two suspects knew the girls, Singh said, but would not elaborate. She said that the owner of the farm which has the well had been questioned, but "he does not seem to be involved".

The sisters, students of class V, IV and I respectively, had not returned from school on February 14. "The eldest one had gone to the younger sister's school to call her, saying their mother had called them to eat some hurda (roasted wheat). They were last seen at 1.30 pm," Singh said.

"The schools are in Lakhni town, which is just about half a kilometre from the village," the SP said. She said she had asked doctors for the time of the children's deaths.

Union minister Praful Patel visited the family on Tuesday and demanded that the case be quickly solved. Asked if he wanted a special probe and the death penalty for the murderers, Patel said, "If need be, the probe should be given to the state CID or an SIT. The culprits should be given death punishment."

On Sunday, angry local people had blocked the highway passing by the village, protesting the police's failure to save the girls. Bhandara district is home to the village of Khairlanji, where four members of the Dalit Bhotmange family were tortured and murdered in September 2006, sparking nationwide protests.

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