The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Age one or seven, no one is safe from rape
- Toddler buried in mud heap

Asansol, Oct. 5: Asansol is seething over Monday night's rape and murder of a one-year-old girl at Bonjemahari village.

Police yesterday arrested 27-year-old Hriday Chauhan ' with whom the toddler was last seen ' following a complaint lodged by her grocer father, Kartick Bhunia.

Hriday, a school dropout who is known to be mentally unstable, confessed during interrogation, according to the Burdwan superintendent of police, Peeyush Pandey. 'The body of the girl was recovered following his statement,' Pandey said.

Chanda's body was found in a mud heap behind a cluster of trees on the outskirts of the village, about 260 km from Calcutta.

The child's elder sister ' Guria ' said the toddler was playing near their thatch-roofed home around 5 pm on Monday, while their mother, Manju, was asleep and Kartick was at work.

'Hridyada was sitting in the field and was laughing while watching us. Suddenly he came and took Chanda in the crook of his arm. We were enjoying playing with him as he is a neighbour,' said the 12-year-old.

'I left my sister with Hridayda and asked him to bring Chanda home soon,' said Guria.

As Guria walked away, Hriday was hurling Chanda in the air and catching her as the child laughed.

After waiting for an hour at home, Guria woke up her mother and told her that Chanda was playing with Hriday and the toddler was yet to come home .

'I rushed to Hriday's house, a few metres away, to ask for my daughter. But I found neither him nor my daughter there,' said Manju, breaking down in tears.

Around 7.30 pm, Kartick came home and, after hearing what had happened, rushed to Hriday's house. 'I asked Hriday about my daughter but he misbehaved with me and said he did not know anything about her,' Kartick said.

Hriday broke down and confessed when questioned by villagers.

'Hriday had taken the toddler in his arms and walked to the cluster of trees on the outskirts of the village where he raped and strangled her. Then he buried the body in a heap of mud,' said a police official.

However, Hriday's father, Lakshman Chauhan, refused to believe his son could commit such a crime.

'My son is innocent. My son cannot rape or murder anyone,' said the shop owner.

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