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Cop ‘killing’ heat on Maya

Mohit sexena : Lucknow, June 13: The alleged rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl at a police station on Friday night has triggered a firestorm of political protests against the Mayavati government.

Sonam, a watchman’s daughter, was found hanging from a tree in the compound of the Nighasan police station in Lakhimpur-Kheri district, 175km from Lucknow, on Saturday morning.

The Samajwadi Party launched an agitation this morning, and the Congress and the BJP have threatened to join in.

After the protests began, the Bahujan Samaj Party government suspended all the 11 personnel at the police station to try and control damage ahead of next year’s elections.

Sonam’s father Intezam Ali, 41, has alleged in the FIR that three policemen had raped and killed his daughter and tried to make it look like a suicide by hanging her body from a tree.

District police chief D.K. Rai would not rule out suicide and said the policemen were suspended for dereliction of duty.

He confessed himself “puzzled” and said two inquiries had been ordered, one by a magistrate and the other by the additional superintendent of police.

Samajwadi leaders have accused the police of trying to hush up the case and demanded immediate registration of a murder case against the policemen. Local party leaders, led by MLA R.A. Osmani, have staged a sit-in outside the police station’s gates and senior Samajwadi leaders from Lucknow are to join in.

A Congress team is scheduled to reach Lakhimpur tonight and the BJP too has threatened to turn the incident into a big issue.

Rai said the post-mortem had identified hanging as the cause of death. “Till the investigation concludes that it was rape and murder, we cannot start a murder case,” he said.

“How can she commit suicide in full view of the policemen who live in the compound?” asked Ali, who has named the station house officer and two sub-inspectors as key suspects.

Ali is a night-watchman at a site where a new building for the police station is coming up, circle inspector Enayetullah Khan said.

“His home is within 100 metres of the police station, separated from it by only a gate,” Khan said. “The policemen knew the family.”

Sonam’s mother Tarannum Begum, 35, said her daughter went missing on Friday evening.

“She had left home to graze cattle in a nearby field. When she failed to return till late in the night, we began looking for her. On Saturday morning, I went out in search of her again and found her hanging from a tree in the police station compound,” Tarannum said.

Samajwadi politician Shivpal Singh Yadav, the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, has threatened state-wide protests unless “the Muslim girl gets justice

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