The death of a nine-year-old girl after she was allegedly gang-raped, murdered, and set on fire while fetching water for her parents has sparked protests in India.
The girl was sent by her mother to fetch water from the nearby crematorium in New Delhi on Sunday evening.
An hour later, she was found dead with wet clothes, a bloodied nose, bruised hands and arms, and blue lips, on the crematorium floor.
A Hindu priest and three accomplices have been accused of raping, killing, and forcibly cremating the nine-year-old girl.
The body was discovered by her mother who went searching for her only child after she failed to return more than an hour after she was sent to fetch water.
The mother said she found her daughter’s body on the crematorium floor but was not allowed to take it away.
Three suspects, including a Hindu priest, closed the gates and refused to let her leave, she said.
The trio told her not to phone the police, claiming officers would ‘steal her organs and sell them’ and also demand an autopsy.
Instead, they forcibly cremated the corpse.
The girl’s father and around 150 villagers put out the pyre, but only managed to save the girl’s legs – meaning police may never be able to prove if she was raped.
The girl was a member of the Dalit class, formerly known as the untouchables, and made a living begging outside a Sufi Muslim shrine.
The incident has sparked widespread anger in India.
Hundreds of protesters have demanded the suspects face the death penalty and called for several police officers to be suspended for allegedly harassing the family.
Demonstrators also burned the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.