The bodies of three school age girls in Nagpur, India were found over the weekend. It is believed that the girls were raped and killed before being thrown into a well, although police initially failed to investigate the crime.
The three sisters aged 11, 9 and 6, were reported missing on Feb. 14. Their mother told the Lakhni police station that the girls had failed to return home from school, according to officials. The bodies of the girls were found two days later in a well located less than two miles away from their village home near Murmadi, reports said.
The girls' bodies had been "brutalized," according to India News, but police failed to launch an investigation and ruled the deaths as "accidental." An investigation into the murder, kidnapping, and rape of the three girls began only after villagers, some of whom had discovered the bodies, blocked traffic in protest of the "accidental death" decision.
"As a father of three daughters, I am appalled at the atrocity committed on these girls. I have raised the matter with the chief minister to ensure financial assistance to the widow, speedy investigation and a fast track trial of the accused," Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel told The Times.
The girls' father had allegedly passed five years before and were being raised by their mother and grandfather, according to The Hindu. A post mortem report confirmed that at least two of the girls appeared to have been sexually assaulted, although it is still unclear what caused their death.
Prakash Munde, chief of the Lakhni police station, under whose jurisdiction the crime was committed, was suspended from his position following the post mortem report, Home Minister RR Patil announced.
"The incident is extremely deplorable and painful. I appeal to the people to maintain calm and cooperate with the law-enforcers," Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said in a statement.