South Asia

India probes 'rape and murder' of 14-year-old


Authorities in India's Uttar Pradesh state have ordered an inquiry after a girl's body was found hanging from a tree in a police station.

The 14-year-old went missing on Friday evening and her body was found a few hours later. Her parents have alleged that she was raped and murdered.

They also say that the police offered them a bribe to keep quiet.

A senior official said the 11 policemen present at the time of the incident have been suspended.

UP officials say that a team of doctors appointed to re-investigate the death from the state capital Lucknow has conducted a second post mortem which concluded that the girl was murdered by strangulation.

A previous post mortem report conducted by local doctors indicated that the cause of death was suicide by hanging.

The incident took place in Nighasan area in Lakhimpur district.

Officials say that the state government has also transferred the Lakhimpur district police chief, while the cook at the police station where the incident happened has been arrested for allegedly tampering with evidence.

In addition the doctors who conducted the first post mortem have been suspended.

Chief Minister Mayawati ordered the probe after the National Human Rights Commission sent a notice to the state asking for a response in four weeks.

The commission also announced that it would send a team to the area to inquire into the incident.

The state's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has described the incident as "barbaric".

"The girl had taken cattle for grazing. When she did not return till late hours her mother went to the spot and found the girl's body hanging from the tree," the Press trust of India quoted police official DK Rai as saying.

After the girl's mother lodged a case of rape and murder the 11 policemen were suspended, he said.

A post-mortem carried out by local doctors ruled out rape and said the cause of the death was asphyxia.

The chief minister rejected the report and ordered a second post-mortem by a panel of doctors from other districts. It too concluded that rape had not taken place.

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