New Delhi: Government on Friday turned down Opposition's demand in Rajya Sabha for a CBI probe into rape and murder of three Dalit minor girls, all below 11 years, in Maharashtra's Bhandara district, saying Centre does not intervene in state affairs.

"This is a very serious issue and concerns the jurisdiction of Maharashtra government," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, adding the Centre did not intervene in state matters "be it a Congress government or an Opposition-ruled government."

Shinde was making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, where members, outraged over the incident, demanded that the Centre should ask for a CBI probe into the ghastly act. He said teams have been formed to pursue different lines of investigation, which is going on, and Maharashtra police was carrying out the probe to track the offenders.

"I am deeply shocked at the despicable, ghastly and brutal manner in which three minor girls from the same family were brutally raped and murdered and thrown into an abandoned well near Murwadi village, Lakhani police station, Bhandara district of Maharashtra," Shinde said.

As members accused the Maharashtra government of inaction, Shinde said in-charge of the police station Prakash Mude was suspended on February 19 as he "did not deal with the complainant promptly and professionally." Shinde said, "Collective conscience of all members of the House would be equally revolted to know about the horrendous incident."

He said the Centre would convey the sentiments of the members to the state including the anguish over the problems caused to the complainant. He said police have already registered an FIR adding, after an inquest by Taluka Magistrate a postmortem was conducted by a team of five doctors and "it appears that all three deceased girls were subjected to sexual abuse and murdered before throwing them into well." Earlier, members expressed anguish and shock over the incident which occurred barely two months after the Delhi gang rape and said Maharashtra police had failed to nab the culprits.

Prakash Javadekar (BJP) demanded a CBI probe into the incident saying the Centre can order a CBI probe directly and not wait for the order of the state government. "There is no law and order in Maharashtra as over 10 such incidents have taken place in last one month," he said.

Smriti Irani (BJP) said it was deplorable that the mother and grandmother of the victims had to wait till 1.30 am to get the complaint filed in the police station and whatever little action followed was a result of public outcry and media reports. She said the Home Minister's statement was silent on many issues and sought to know why the police was so inept in Bhandara.

"Is mere suspension of a police inspector enough? In the same area, after this incident a teacher sexually assaulted a student. In Sangli, the home district of Maharashtra Home Minister, a girl was gang-raped," she said.

She demanded immediate appointment of the chairperson of the State Commission for Women saying, "The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has not been able to name the chairperson of the State Women Commission for two years. How many women will face rape and how many children will die that Maharashtra government will wake up?"

Maya Singh (BJP) stressed that the government should take up the matter seriously. Ajay Sancheti (BJP) said it was a serious matter that the only action Maharashtra police took was to suspend a policeman. Veer Singh (BSP) said the unfortunate minor girls could have been saved, had the police swung into action on February 14 when the complaint was lodged.  Hussain Dalwai (Cong) said government should suspend the SP of the district as well instead of taking action against lower level officials only. A CBI probe should be conducted, he said.

Hanumantha Rao (Cong) said capital punishment must be awarded to perpetrators of such crime to prevent any recurrence. K D Singh (Trinamool) said it was a gruesome incident and needed immediate attention. Vimla Kashyap Sood (BJP) also sought a CBI probe into it. Kumar Deepak Dash (AGP) stressed the need for checking recurrence of such incidents.

The bodies of three minors girls, all below 11 years, missing since February 14 were found in a well at Murwadi village in Bhandara district in Nagpur on February 16.


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