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Lakhimpur Kheri Rape-Murder Calls Attention to Badaun Horror: What Had Happened?

On 28 May 2014, two teenage cousins were found hanging from a branch of a tree in UP's Katra Sadatganj village.

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Gender
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Lakhimpur Kheri Rape-Murder Calls Attention to Badaun Horror: What Had Happened?
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On 28 May 2014, two girls aged 14 and 15 were found hanging from a branch of a mango tree in Katra Sadatganj village of Uttar Pradesh's Badaun district. The teenage cousins had gone missing the previous evening after they left their homes to relieve themselves in the open. The next morning, visuals of them hanging from the tree made headlines.

On 14 September this year, the bodies of two other minor Dalit sisters – found hanging from a tree in a sugarcane field, about a kilometre from their home in a village of Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district – evoked memories of what happened in Badaun eight years ago. Similar visuals are once again being flashed across television news channels and social media.

As the horror in Lakhimpur Kheri sparks outrage, the Badaun case remains unsolved. Talking to The Quint, Kokab Hasan Naqvi, the lawyer for the families of the two victims, said, "The parents of both girls have not given up their hope for justice."

The village of Badaun made headlines in 2014 after two teenage girls were found hanging from a mango tree.

(Photo Courtesy: Mayurica Biswas)

"But the case has not moved forward in all these years, and directions have not been issued to fast-track it. Evidence collection is currently underway, as directed by the Allahabad High Court," he added.

In this detailed explainer, we examine how the Badaun case unfolded and the questions that still remain unanswered.

Lakhimpur Kheri Rape-Murder Calls Attention to Badaun Horror: What Had Happened?

  1. 1. What Happened in Badaun in 2014?

    There are three versions of what happened to the two minor girls on the night of 27 May 2014.

    • The father of the one of the victims and uncle of the other, Sohan Lal, said he went to the police station around midnight, seeking help from the local police to look for the two girls. He claimed the two police officers on duty mocked him and did not register an FIR.

    • The second version claimed that Babu Ram, a relative and prime witness in the case, saw the girls with the main accused, Pappu Yadav. Babu Ram said that he saw the girls being held at gunpoint and that he reportedly ran to inform the family. The family then rushed to the cops, he initially claimed.

    • A third version suggests that the family went to Pappu Yadav’s house first. Yadav reportedly 'admitted' to abducting the girls, but he refused to release them. The family then approached the police who initially told them that their girls will return home in two hours. But they never did.

    Expand
  2. 2. How the Case Unfolded

    By 1 June 2014, the three main accused – Pappu Yadav, Awdesh Yadav, and Urvesh Yadav – were arrested, citing that they had confessed to the rape and murder of the two girls. Apart from the arrests, two police constables were removed from the case and detained, after being charged with 'criminal conspiracy.'

    On 6 June 2014, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up to investigate the case.

    On 8 June 2014, the then Director General of Police (DGP) AL Banerjee said that one of the girls was not raped and also suggested that the killings could be linked to a case of honour killing.

    Expand
  3. 3. What Did the CBI Probe Say?

    Amid national and international outrage, the Uttar Pradesh government transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 12 June 2014. But after the CBI took over, the case became more cumbersome, and not only put the families’ claims under the scanner but also made the prime witness, Babu Ram, unreliable.

    On 15 July that year, the CBI pointed the alleged inconsistencies in the families claims – after crucial evidence like mobile phones and slippers were recovered. With it not being possible to exhume their bodies in order to conduct another post-mortem, the CBI decided to conduct a DNA analysis.

    While the CBI did not file a charge sheet against the accused for rape in August 2014, it also did not rule out the possibility of rape.

    After a five-month probe, the CBI concluded that the girls were neither raped nor murdered, and instead said that they died by suicide. With phone records as 'evidence', the CBI suggested that both girls may have had an 'affair' with one of the accused.

    The agency said the younger sister was also in a relationship with the same man. Both girls, the CBI claimed, died by suicide after their relationship was found out by an uncle.
    Expand
  4. 4. The Unresolved Questions

    Why Did the Accused Confess to Rape and Murder?

    In the initial stages of investigation, the UP Police, in an official statement, had said that during interrogation, two of the accused had confessed to the rape and murder of the two girls, as reported by The Times Of India. This was also pointed out by the father of one of the victims, when the CBI had reached their conclusion.

    “How can the CBI rule out rape when the accused publicly confessed to the crime in the village when they were caught?” said the father of one of the victims.

    Transfer of Money to Eyewitness

    During the CBI investigation, it was revealed that the families of the victims had transferred Rs 1 lakh each to the bank accounts of two eyewitnesses, including Babu Ram, reported The Indian Express.

    The money was sent from the Rs 5 lakh compensation, which the family had received from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The fathers of the girls reportedly told the CBI that they transferred the money to help Babu Ram out.

    Babu Ram’s role also came under the scanner when he failed the polygraph test conducted by the CBI. While the five main accused had passed the test, there were inconsistencies that were reported in his statement on key questions related to the case, The Indian Express reported.

    Faulty First Autopsy?

    One of the doctors who was on the panel that conducted the first post-mortem of the bodies claimed that she had no prior experience of conducting an autopsy before the incident.

    This statement had come a day before the CBI had decided to exhume the bodies, when they found out that the initial post-mortem was not done in compliance with the procedures.

    Why Did No One Mention the Phone?

    A month after the crime, CBI investigators spotted a mobile phone from the photograph of the crime scene. The photograph showed a mobile phone tucked in the upper garments of the elder sister.

    The family never mentioned anything about a mobile phone prior to this point of the investigation, and upon being summoned to submit the phone, produced a broken one.

    The phone, which was initially reported to be missing, was then sent to the Gujarat forensic lab, which concluded that "the mobile phone was broken recently and intentionally by applying external force."

    Expand
  5. 5. What Happened in the Last Eight Years?

    Despite the media attention, the case has been pending in the POCSO court for the last eight years.

    While a petition against the CBI closure report was filed in 2015, Pappu Yadav and the four other accused reportedly remain out on bail.

    Speaking to The Quint, Naqvi reiterated: "All I can say is the case has not moved forward."

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What Happened in Badaun in 2014?

There are three versions of what happened to the two minor girls on the night of 27 May 2014.

  • The father of the one of the victims and uncle of the other, Sohan Lal, said he went to the police station around midnight, seeking help from the local police to look for the two girls. He claimed the two police officers on duty mocked him and did not register an FIR.

  • The second version claimed that Babu Ram, a relative and prime witness in the case, saw the girls with the main accused, Pappu Yadav. Babu Ram said that he saw the girls being held at gunpoint and that he reportedly ran to inform the family. The family then rushed to the cops, he initially claimed.

  • A third version suggests that the family went to Pappu Yadav’s house first. Yadav reportedly 'admitted' to abducting the girls, but he refused to release them. The family then approached the police who initially told them that their girls will return home in two hours. But they never did.

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How the Case Unfolded

By 1 June 2014, the three main accused – Pappu Yadav, Awdesh Yadav, and Urvesh Yadav – were arrested, citing that they had confessed to the rape and murder of the two girls. Apart from the arrests, two police constables were removed from the case and detained, after being charged with 'criminal conspiracy.'

On 6 June 2014, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up to investigate the case.

On 8 June 2014, the then Director General of Police (DGP) AL Banerjee said that one of the girls was not raped and also suggested that the killings could be linked to a case of honour killing.

ADVERTISEMENT

What Did the CBI Probe Say?

Amid national and international outrage, the Uttar Pradesh government transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 12 June 2014. But after the CBI took over, the case became more cumbersome, and not only put the families’ claims under the scanner but also made the prime witness, Babu Ram, unreliable.

On 15 July that year, the CBI pointed the alleged inconsistencies in the families claims – after crucial evidence like mobile phones and slippers were recovered. With it not being possible to exhume their bodies in order to conduct another post-mortem, the CBI decided to conduct a DNA analysis.

While the CBI did not file a charge sheet against the accused for rape in August 2014, it also did not rule out the possibility of rape.

After a five-month probe, the CBI concluded that the girls were neither raped nor murdered, and instead said that they died by suicide. With phone records as 'evidence', the CBI suggested that both girls may have had an 'affair' with one of the accused.

The agency said the younger sister was also in a relationship with the same man. Both girls, the CBI claimed, died by suicide after their relationship was found out by an uncle.
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The Unresolved Questions

Why Did the Accused Confess to Rape and Murder?

In the initial stages of investigation, the UP Police, in an official statement, had said that during interrogation, two of the accused had confessed to the rape and murder of the two girls, as reported by The Times Of India. This was also pointed out by the father of one of the victims, when the CBI had reached their conclusion.

“How can the CBI rule out rape when the accused publicly confessed to the crime in the village when they were caught?” said the father of one of the victims.

Transfer of Money to Eyewitness

During the CBI investigation, it was revealed that the families of the victims had transferred Rs 1 lakh each to the bank accounts of two eyewitnesses, including Babu Ram, reported The Indian Express.

The money was sent from the Rs 5 lakh compensation, which the family had received from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The fathers of the girls reportedly told the CBI that they transferred the money to help Babu Ram out.

Babu Ram’s role also came under the scanner when he failed the polygraph test conducted by the CBI. While the five main accused had passed the test, there were inconsistencies that were reported in his statement on key questions related to the case, The Indian Express reported.

Faulty First Autopsy?

One of the doctors who was on the panel that conducted the first post-mortem of the bodies claimed that she had no prior experience of conducting an autopsy before the incident.

This statement had come a day before the CBI had decided to exhume the bodies, when they found out that the initial post-mortem was not done in compliance with the procedures.

Why Did No One Mention the Phone?

A month after the crime, CBI investigators spotted a mobile phone from the photograph of the crime scene. The photograph showed a mobile phone tucked in the upper garments of the elder sister.

The family never mentioned anything about a mobile phone prior to this point of the investigation, and upon being summoned to submit the phone, produced a broken one.

The phone, which was initially reported to be missing, was then sent to the Gujarat forensic lab, which concluded that "the mobile phone was broken recently and intentionally by applying external force."

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What Happened in the Last Eight Years?

Despite the media attention, the case has been pending in the POCSO court for the last eight years.

While a petition against the CBI closure report was filed in 2015, Pappu Yadav and the four other accused reportedly remain out on bail.

Speaking to The Quint, Naqvi reiterated: "All I can say is the case has not moved forward."

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Edited By :Karan HM
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