Having a child
THE WEEK|November 29, 2020
The horrifying sacrifice of a seven-year-old girl in Bhadras reveals how primordial instincts still prevail
PUJA AWASTHI

WE HAVE ALWAYS struggled, but never faced such darkness,” said the father of a seven-year-old girl who was gangraped and killed in the village of Bhadras in Kanpur on November 14. The girl’s liver was carved out in a horrifying ritual that was supposed to help a childless couple beget an offspring.

The girl hailed from the Kureel (or Kuril) dalit community, which is the third largest chunk of Bhadras’s population. It is a caste that has long worked in Kanpur’s leather industry and also participated in reform movements.

The girl was the fourth of five children in the family. Her parents work as agricultural labourers on the farms of upper caste landowners in the village and as seasonal workers in brick kilns. The five people named in the initial First Information Report and those added in the amended FIR (which includes charges under the National Security Act) come from the same caste and similar economic background.

On the evening of Diwali, the girl had stepped out of her house to play before the festivities began. She was allegedly lured by her neighbour Ankul with firecrackers. “We set out to look for her when it was time for the puja. A girl from the neighbourhood said she had gone with Ankul. We informed the police around 10pm and they too searched for her. But we could not find her,” said her father.

The child’s naked, mutilated body was discovered the next morning in a wooded area adjacent to the village. Her blood-soaked slippers lay at some distance.

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