Members of the Aam Admi Party burn an effigy of chief minister Nitish Kumar in Patna on Sunday to protest against a gang-rape case in Motihari. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey
A five-year-old girl was raped and murdered, allegedly by her stepfather, at Loha Gali in the city on Sunday.
The accused, identified as Chandan Kumar, is absconding.
When the girl's 30-year-old mother, who works as a domestic help, returned home after finishing her work around 8.45am, she was shocked to find her daughter lying in a pool of blood on the bed and her clothes scattered on the floor.
"For a moment, I could not believe my eyes. I shouted at the top of my voice for help. I could not see my (second) husband Chandan, who was present in the room when I had left for work early this morning," she told police officers.
"I have been living here for the past one decade. I got married to Chandan, a resident of Patna City, about two years ago after the death of my first husband," the mother said, demanding her husband be arrested.
Kadamkuan police station house officer (SHO) Ghulam Sarwar said prima facie it appeared to be a case of rape and murder. "But we can't say anything at this stage as the post-mortem report is awaited," he said.
As the news spread in the locality, a number of residents gathered at the site. Local people alleged the woman's first husband had committed suicide following a family dispute about two years ago.
The mother, however, said her first husband had died after prolonged illness. Since then she had been living with her daughter in the rented house.
She later came in contact with Chandan, a daily wage labourer, and got married. The trio were living together. The neighbours did not notice anything wrong with the family till recently.
"For the mother, the whole world has turned topsy-turvy. It's a double whammy for the hapless woman. She has lost her only child on the one hand and her husband on the other," said a neighbour.
The 40-year-old neighbour, who works in a private firm, said everything was fine till the morning.
"We did not notice anything unusual. What happened later is not known to us," he said.
The police said the girl was strangled to death. Her mother had left home around 5am.
The SHO said the woman, a native of Hajipur in Vaishali district, has lodged a complaint alleging rape and murder against her second husband. "Raids are on to apprehend the culprit," he added.
Local residents expressed anguish over rising crime in recent months.
"It is shocking that the criminals commit crime in daylight and go scot-free," said a resident of Kadamkuan on condition of anonymity.
"Hardly a day passes without any incident of crime in the capital," said another resident, who was robbed of his belongings while returning home from his shop last week.
The capital has witnessed a spurt in incidents of loot and extortion. Navin Kumar Gupta, a resident of Bhawar Pokhar, has alleged that some criminals threatened him with dire consequences when he refused to pay Rs 5 lakh as extortion.
He reported the matter to the Pirbahore police under whose jurisdiction the area comes but the police have not been able to arrest of any of the accused, who Gupta alleges enjoy political patronage.
"The whole family is passing sleepless nights after the threat," a visibly upset Gupta saidon Sunday.