Police in eastern India say a teenager who was found dead this week with her body dismembered and mutilated was murdered by her family in a so-called “honour” killing.
The body of the 16-year old from Gaya, a city in Bihar state, was discovered on Sunday. Pictures of her mutilated remains were widely shared on social media along with claims she had been doused in acid, sparking protests and candlelit vigils in the city.
The brutal killing in a remote pocket of one of India’s poorest states is being compared to the 2012 gang rape and murder of a Delhi student that galvanised women’s movements and led to a national reckoning over sexual violence.
In Bihar, the girl’s family had claimed she was raped and murdered and that police had been slow in searching for her since she was reported missing on 28 December. But on Thursday authorities said they believed the girl’s family were responsible for her death.
“It’s a case of honour killing,” Gaya’s police chief, Rajiv Kumar Mishra, said. “The girl eloped with someone on December 28 from her home in Patwa Panchayat but returned after three days. This angered the parents, who plotted the cold-blooded murder with the help of a butcher friend.”
He said a post-mortem had ruled out rape and that the girl’s sister had told police she had last seen her with the butcher on 31 December.
“After the recovery of the body, we called the parents to the police station several times to record their statements, but they made lame excuses and didn’t show up,” Mishra said, according to the Hindustan Times. “Their dubious attempt to escape interrogation further confirmed our suspicions. In the meantime, we picked up the butcher who narrated the entire incident.”
Mishra said elopement was severely punished in the area and locals froze out anyone who married without the sanction of their families and community.
Indian media reports a regular stream of high-profile killings each year of men and women who marry in defiance of their family or community’s caste, religion or customs.
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