Bulandshahr: She lay dead on the charpoy, her alleged killer sprawled beside her, half-conscious, with slits on his wrists and neck. In an incident that has sparked allegations of deep caste fault lines in the region, a 16-year-old-girl from a backward community was allegedly shot dead by a Brahmin man in Dharau, a village in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh on 21 January.
The girl’s family has claimed that she was abducted, gang-raped, and killed by a group of Brahmin men — allegedly protected by the local MLA, Anil Sharma of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a minister in the state government. Afterwards, according to the family, the police forcibly cremated the body in the dead of night, in an incident that evokes the Hathras gang rape and murder case of 2020.
However, the police claimed that the girl was killed by one man acting alone, and that the post-mortem did not establish rape. They also said that no eyewitnesses had come forward to report the alleged gang rape, and denied the accusations of forced cremation.
Police said the accused, 25-year-old Saurabh Sharma, had been in a relationship with the girl, and had shot her in a “fit of rage” as he suspected her of cheating on him. He then tried to kill himself by slitting his throat and wrists.
Saurabh, who is unemployed, has been arrested, and faces charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, as well as kidnapping and murder.
ThePrint tried to reach the minister, Anil Sharma, via calls and text messages, but his phone was consistently switched off.
The case garnered attention on social media after the girl’s family protested outside the office of Bulandshahr’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).
‘He shot her and then slit his wrists, neck’
According to the FIR, accessed by ThePrint, the police received a call about the incident when a passer-by in Dharau heard a gunshot.
When the police reached the spot — near a farm said to belong to Dharau sarpanch Mahendra Sharma — the girl’s dead body was found lying on a charpoy and the accused was lying beside her in a semi-conscious state, with slit wounds on his wrists and neck, the FIR says.
The girl, the police said, was bleeding from her left ear, and the accused admitted to having shot her.
The police said that Saurabh had killed her because he suspected her of cheating on him.
“The accused, Saurabh Sharma, has admitted that he was in a relationship with the girl for the past two years. He claims he saw some messages on the girl’s WhatsApp that angered him and he killed her with a tamancha (single-shot pistol),” SSP Santosh Kumar Singh told ThePrint over the phone.
‘No injury over private region’ says post-mortem
The girl’s father has claimed that Saurabh abducted her from her village, Galimpur, at 3 pm on 21 January. He took her to Dharau, 16 km away, where he gang-raped her with his other Brahmin friends, and later killed her, according to the father.
However, the police said that the post-mortem did not confirm rape.
According to the post-mortem report, accessed by ThePrint, “no injury over the private region” was noted. The cause of death has been noted as “antemortem firearm injury”.
Speaking to ThePrint, SSP Singh said it “does not seem to be a case of rape”.
“No signs of rape were discovered during the post-mortem. We added (POCSO) sections because she was a minor,” he said.
Relatives of the girl, who belonged to the (OBC) Lodhi-Rajput caste, have claimed that police, citing “law and order” issues, had rushed the cremation and forcibly carried it out at midnight — just as in the case of the Dalit girl who was allegedly raped and fatally assaulted by upper caste men in Hathras in 2020.
However — unlike in Hathras — the family said they were present at the cremation, although they don’t have any photos or videos of that night.
“They kept on telling us that it’s election season, and that we should rush it. We told them Hindus don’t cremate the dead at night, but they didn’t listen to us. The body was brought home for a fraction of a second. We couldn’t even say goodbye,” said an uncle of the girl. He also said that she was cremated at a site in the village called Raj Ghat, which the police denied.
The police said that the cremation was done with the family’s consent.
“The family cremated the girl, we didn’t rush it. The girl was cremated early in the morning at Ganga Ghat,” SSP Singh said.
The victim’s grandparents also said the police had beaten them with sticks and pushed them away when they asked to see the body. This, too, was denied by the police.
“No one was forced or beaten,” said Singh.
‘Brahmins raped our girl, no one came to save her’
With the allegations of gang rape by Brahmins, the incident has reopened caste fault lines in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district.
The family has alleged that Dharau sarpanch Mahendra Sharma’s son and his friends — of whom Saurabh is one — had raped the girl, and that they were being shielded by minister Anil Sharma of the BJP.
“We’ve been living in the village for so long. We know everyone. We also know for a fact that Saurabh didn’t know how to ride a bike. How did he drive 16 km to bring the girl here?” asked the victim’s aunt.
“Also, the girl weighed more than 80 kg. There’s no way just one person was able to abduct her and drive all the way here. There are more people involved,” she further alleged.
“The Brahmins raped our girl and are getting away with it because the entire system is run by the 8 per cent. Nobody is willing to listen to us because the Brahmin vote matters in the area,” she said.
The girl’s family further said the upper castes “dehumanise” them because they belong to the bahujan samaj and protect people from their community.
Other villagers expressed similar sentiments, saying they were upset that no politicians had come to visit them after the news of the case broke. “The politicians are afraid they’ll lose the Brahmin vote, so they’re not coming to meet us. We’ve been totally ignored,” said a villager.
Krishna Krantikari, a professor at a local college, said, “Tell me why does this happen only to girls from the bahujan samaj? The local media has not even covered this news. Nobody from Delhi has come to ask us how we are.” He said that only the Bhim Army, an Ambedkarite organisation, had come to speak to the villagers.
ThePrint tried to reach Mahendra Sharma but he could not be traced. He was not in the village when this reporter visited, and his number could not be obtained from villagers either.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)
Source: The Print