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Teenager’s body found in river, residents allege rape

Seraikela-Kharsawan police await autopsy report to confirm allegations, amid blockade and demand for justice
The Kharkai river where the body was recovered on Sunday
Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Kumud Jenamani

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The body of a teenage girl was found floating in the Kharkai river on Saturday afternoon, after she went missing from a relative’s house at Adityapur in Seraikela-Kharsawan district, about 4km from here, on June 18.

The widowed mother of the girl and relatives claimed that she might have been raped and murdered as her clothes and slippers were found in an abandoned government school building at Shaldih Bustee, about half-a-km from the spot in the Kharkai where the body was recovered.

The police said the rape cannot be confirmed till the autopsy report comes but said it was a case of murder.

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The family alleged police inaction, saying they had made no attempt to search for the girl, even after they lodged a missing person’s report on June 18 evening.

They traced the victim’s clothes themselves on June 19 morning.

“My 16-year-old niece, who stays with her mother in Majhitola, adjoining Shaldih Bustee, had come to our house to stay for a few days. She went missing on June 18. We informed the Adityapur police about the incident after searching for her for a few hours and lodged a missing person’s report. The local residents found her clothes and slipper from an abandoned house the next morning and informed the police. But the police did not do anything to trace her. Finally, one of the bustee dwellers spotted the body floating in the river on Saturday afternoon,” the victim’s told The Telegraph Online on Sunday.

He alleged that if the police had swung into action after the report was lodged, perhaps his niece could be saved.

“When the body was found with all circumstantial evidence that she must have been raped, the police are trying to buy time on the plea that nothing can be said until the autopsy report comes,” he said.

The victim’s father died years ago and she used to help her mother to run a small general store.

Residents of Majhitola and Shaldih bustee had blocked the Tata-Kandra Road in Adityapur on Saturday evening, protesting the police inaction and asking the administration to find and punish the culprits.

After an hour-long blockade, the police forcibly dispersed the protesters, and claimed they would arrest the culprits soon.

Seraikela-Kharsawan superintendent of police Mohammed Arshi confirmed that it was a case of murder, but reiterated that the rape could only be proven in the autopsy report, expected in a week.

“It appeared from the body that she had been murdered the day the family members had lodged a report. We have registered a murder case and started investigation,” said Arshi, asserting that they would detect the culprits soon.

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