Police on Saturday arrested two more people for the murder of a toddler in Aligarh and confirmed that one of the men held earlier for the crime is an alleged sex offender who targeted children in recent years.
Shagufta (32) and Mehndi Hasan, the wife and the brother of Zahid who was arrested on Tuesday, were picked up on Saturday morning by the special investigation team formed to probe the killing of the two-and-a-half-year-old girl in Tappal township.
"They were later arrested," a senior police official said. With this, the total number of arrests has gone up to four in the case.
Other than 27-year-old Zahid, police had arrested Aslam, 43, on Tuesday after the girl's decomposed body was found in a garbage dump around 200 metres from her home. The body was discovered on June 2, three days after she was reported missing. The girl's father had alleged she was killed because he failed to repay Rs 10,000 taken as loan from the accused.
Aslam was charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in 2014 and 2017, police said. He also faced charges under Uttar Pradesh's Goonda Act.
The second POCSO case, in Delhi's Gokulpuri, also involved abduction of a minor.
Two separate cases of POCSO are pending against him and he had gone to jail in connection with an abduction case in Delhi, Aligarh Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Akash Kulhari said.
Meanwhile, Aligarh Bar Association announced that no lawyer would appear in court on behalf of any of the accused charged with the toddler's murder.
"We have decided that no lawyer will appear in the court for accused," Bar Association secretary Anup Kaushik said.
Kulhari said officials probing the Aligarh case are looking into the phone records of all suspects.
"The police are in the process of building a water-tight case against the accused so that it stands all legal scrutiny and speedy justice is delivered through a fast-track court. We are checking phone records of all suspects to trace the crime trail," he said.
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Kulhari, who camped in the area till late Friday, warned of strong action against anyone trying to spread rumours through social media.
Tension had prevailed in the area after the victim's family alleged that police officials delayed the registration of their complaint and the investigation. Five policemen have been suspended for negligence and Kulhari Friday assured locals that justice would be done in the case.
The SSP reiterated that the postmortem examination by a panel of three doctors found "no evidence of sexual assault", but police were taking no chances and forensic experts were examining vaginal swabs for any further evidence.
The incident has triggered massive outrage. Political leaders and celebrities have also tweeted their anger and disgust over the crime.
Candlelight protests over the murder were held in Aligarh city. Teachers and students at Aligarh Muslim University have demanded "exemplary and prompt" punishment for the perpetrators.
At a special meeting of its executive, the AMU Teachers Association demanded that a fast-track court be immediately set up to try the case.
AMUTA secretary Nazmul Hasan said in a press release that the teachers stood by the victim's family.
Former president of AMU students union Faizul Hasan said the law should be amended so that convicts of such crime face "punishment as stringent as that in Saudi Arabia".