MODASA: A week after the body of a Dalit woman was found hanging from a tree in Aravalli district of Gujarat, police arrested three persons on Sunday night on rape and murder charges, officials said on Monday.
The trio, Vimal Bharwad, Darshan Bharwad and Jigar Parmar, was arrested after they surrendered before the police in Modasa taluka of Aravalli district, they said, adding another accused is on the run.
The 19-year-old woman had gone missing after she left for Modasa town on January 1 and she was found hanging from a tree near her native Sayra village on January 5 after which an FIR was filed on January 7, the police said.
The FIR was filed following protests by the victim's relatives and other Dalits of the village demanding immediate arrest of the culprits.
"We have arrested Vimal Bharwad, Darshan Bharwad and Jigar Parmar on Sunday night. A fourth accused, Satish Bharwad, is absconding and efforts are on to nab him," said Aravalli Superintendent of Police Mayur Patil.
As per the FIR, the four men had abducted the woman in a car and raped her.
They then killed her and hanged her body from a tree, an official said.
Besides facing rape and murder charges under the IPC, the accused have also been booked under provisions of the SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
However, the police said a post-mortem conducted on the body in Ahmedabad Civil Hospital has not confirmed rape or murder.
"The post-mortem report says the death was due to asphyxiation from hanging. No fracture or major injury has been found on the body. We have asked forensic experts to probe further to confirm rape. We are expecting the report soon," said Patil.
Meanwhile, taking suo motu cognisance of the alleged gang-rape and murder of the woman, a team of the National Commission for Women (NCW) reached Modasa on Monday and held meetings with the police over the incident.
"The NCW had taken suo motu cognisance of the matter and launched an inquiry. The post-mortem report has failed to prove that she was raped and murdered."
And if it was a suicide, then what were the circumstances behind it? I think the picture will be clear after the forensic report arrives in two-three days," NCW member Rajul Desai told reporters here.