A seven-year-old girl attending a wedding was allegedly raped and strangled here early today by a man hired to set up tents for the ceremony, police said.
Already fighting public anger over the rape of a teen allegedly by a ruling party MLA in Unnao, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, in a quick damage control move, invoked the stringent National Security Act against the alleged rapist.
Under the NSA, a person can be detained without bail or trial and authorities need not disclose grounds of detention if they believe the detainee can act in a way that poses a threat to the security of the state or the country or the maintenance of public order.
Enraged over the heinous crime, the victim's family blocked the Etah-Farrukhabad road, while opposition parties slammed the Yogi Adityanath government for the "sudden spurt" in rape cases.
The protesters, demanding Rs 10 lakh as compensation, lifted the blockade after a couple of hours following an assurance from Premlata Verma David, wife of Etah MLA Vipin Kumar David, that their demands will be looked into, police said.
He said the man was in an inebriated state.
"After this, the accused fled the spot. The body of the girl was found in an under-construction house in the vicinity of the marriage venue. A rope was found tied around the neck of the girl," he said.
The girl was rushed to the district hospital where she was declared brought dead. The body of the girl has been sent for post-mortem examination.
"On the basis of complaints filed by family members, police have arrested Sonu Jatav," he said.
"A case has been registered against the accused for rape and murder of the girl," the SP said. The POCSO Act, which seeks to protect children from sexual offences, has also been invoked.
He said the National Security Act will be slapped on the accused.
Slamming the ruling BJP, Samajwadi Party spokesperson and MLC Sunil Singh Sajan said, "I simply fail to understand why the law and order in the state has deteriorated so much after the BJP has come to power in UP.
"On the one hand, the government claims that encounters are going on in the state and on the other the crime ratio has surged. The BJP had claimed that as soon as they come to power, the law and order will improve. But going by the sudden spurt in incidents, I feel that even minor girls are not safe in the state," he said.
The Congress too attacked the BJP government.
UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said, "It is an irony that criminal elements are roaming freely in the state, and UP has become virtually the number one state in the country going by the spurt in rapes and other crimes."
He added, "Congress will soon launch a mass movement across the state to highlight the surge in crime."
The BJP, however, said the party does not believe in protecting criminals.
"Unlike the past state governments which used to shield criminal elements, the BJP believes in ensuring that swift action is initiated against them. The police in UP are working without any 'dabaav' (pressure) and 'prabhaav' (influence)," he said.
"FIRs which were not registered in the previous state government's regime are now being immediately registered," Singh said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)