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‘Our room was soaked in maa’s blood’ — how UP anganwadi worker bled to death after ‘gang rape’

An anganwadi worker — mother of a son and 4 daughters — was allegedly raped and fatally injured by a priest and two of his disciples when she visited a temple Sunday evening.

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Budaun: Wrapped in woollens — a shawl covering her face — the young woman holds a mattress in her hands, trying to recount the last moments of her mother’s life. 

Large, irregular patterns of dried blood leap out from the faded purple of the mattress as she narrates how her mother, a 50-year-old anganwadi worker, lay bleeding on it Sunday night at their home in village Kiyoli, in UP’s Budaun district.  

“Our front room was soaked in mother’s blood,” said the woman, the eldest daughter of the victim. “This is monstrous, barbaric.” 

One of the victim's daughters shows the blood-soaked mattress on which she was brought home by the suspects | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
One of the victim’s daughters shows the blood-soaked mattress in which she was allegedly brought home by the suspects | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

The anganwadi worker — the mother of a son and four daughters — was allegedly raped and fatally injured by a priest and two of his disciples when she visited a temple in her maternal village Mevali — located 10 km away, within Budaun — for prayers Sunday evening. 

According to her family, when she was dropped home by the suspected assailants later that night — wrapped in the same mattress — she was barely breathing, had her clothes in disarray, and was bleeding heavily. She died shortly afterwards.

Her autopsy, Budaun police said, suggested she had suffered trauma and revealed “tears” in her private parts. She had died of excessive bleeding, and the assault she suffered had resulted in a fractured rib and leg, apart from other injuries, they added.

The prime suspect — priest Satyanarayan — was arrested Thursday night, four days after the alleged crime. Budaun District Magistrate Kumar Prashant said Satyanarayan was hiding in a nearby village within the jurisdiction of Ughaiti Police station, at the residence of one of his followers. Interrogation of the priest is under way.

The two disciples — Vedram and Jaspal — were arrested earlier, but, according to police, have denied allegations of rape or assault. The local station house officer (SHO) has been suspended for allegedly ignoring the family’s complaints when they first approached police.

A special task force has been formed to investigate the case and four other teams constituted to nab the priest.  

As police dig deeper into the case, ominous questions have emerged about the priest, with the woman’s family and some villagers alleging that he performed “black magic” and was known to reserve a lecherous stare for women.

Meanwhile, a deep fear has taken hold within the woman’s family. If their mother wasn’t safe at a temple, could any of them really be safe anywhere?

Also Read: Before Hathras and Balrampur, UP reported at least 6 rape-murders in August

Praying for husband’s health

The house of the victim in Kiyoli is filled with idols of various deities. According to the daughters, their mother would always perform her daily puja, “no matter what happened”.  

With her husband keeping unwell, the victim had been praying all the more fervently, her family said. 

She frequently visited the temple where she was allegedly attacked, and was deeply influenced by Satyanarayan, they added.

On Sunday, since morning, the priest had been calling up the victim and asking her to visit the temple, they claimed. In the evening, the family said, she set off for Mevali, where she planned to not just visit the temple but also meet her mother.

That is the last time her family saw her on her feet.

Around 11 pm, they said, the suspects dropped off their mother — injured and bleeding heavily — at their house in a car before hurrying away. 

When she arrived home, her daughters told ThePrint, she was only partially covered. 

“She was hardly breathing, there was no life left in her. Her sari was removed, just hanging on her body. She was only in her blouse and petticoat, all red in blood. We saw her private parts mutilated,” said one of her daughters. 

It was as they recounted the scene that one of the daughters picked up the mattress to explain just how much she bled. The mattress hasn’t been collected by police as evidence (asked why later, police claimed they hadn’t known about the mattress at all). 

The woman’s son said he was alone at home with his two younger sisters when their mother was dropped off. Their father was away at a relative’s place, he added. 

“I couldn’t understand what to do. So, I waited for my elder sisters to arrive and we went to the police station the next morning,” he said. 

The victim's family at their home in Kiyoli | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
The victim’s family at their home in Kiyoli | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

At the Ughaiti police station, another ordeal awaited the family as the personnel posted there allegedly refused to register a complaint. 

It was only after the family called up 112, the police helpline number, that police reached their house to take the body, at 3 pm Monday, they said. The autopsy, however, was conducted Tuesday.

Speaking to ThePrint, Budaun Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sankalp Sharma said the Ughaiti station house officer (SHO) had been suspended for “failure to act” as required in the case, and not visiting the house instantly. 

“Lack of immediate action is the reason behind his suspension. He should have instantly reached the house, collected the body, and visited the crime spot but none of this happened,” Sharma added. 

Asked why the autopsy was delayed, he said it was already too late Monday by the time they got involved. “As per standard procedure, the autopsy was conducted Tuesday in daylight,” he added. 

Citing the autopsy report and “prima facie evidence”, police in Budaun said the woman had multiple abrasions all over her body. Requesting anonymity, police personnel added that the autopsy revealed she had died of “excessive bleeding” and “trauma”. 

Her lower abdomen, including private parts, suffered severe assault, which led to “multiple tears and continuous bleeding till the time she succumbed to the injuries”, they said. The autopsy also confirmed a rib fracture, leg fracture and lung damage due to a “heavy blow”, they added. 

Following the autopsy, the three suspects were booked under sections 376D (gang rape) and 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. 

The woman’s family said the nature of her injuries suggested the suspects inserted a rod into her private parts. SSP Sharma denied the claim but admitted that her injuries suggested the use of “extreme force”, and that doctors had found “tears” in her private parts.

The family said they want the suspects to be awarded death penalty in a fast-track trial. They also want the government to provide financial assistance for the young daughters and a government job for the son. 

Left shaken by the incident, the family claimed their lives will now be lived with fear. “How will women in UP survive? We can’t work, we can’t visit places of worship?” one of the woman’s daughters said.

Also Read: Unnao woman set on fire knew accused, he had raped her on pretext of marriage, says family

‘Black magic’ and faith

The priest who has emerged as the prime suspect in the case had been in the village for 7-8 years, local police said, adding that they had received no other complaints against him so far.  

According to the victim’s eldest daughter, who is married into a family from Mevali, the “baba” had some kind of a “grip” on her mother, which is why she visited him so frequently. 

“He would perform kala jadu (black magic), but mother was swayed by whatever he said. She was extremely religious and prayed constantly for father’s health,” she said. 

“We didn’t believe in the priest, he appeared to be a fraud, but our mother believed in him and would frequently visit him. He is known for manipulating women by claiming that he can solve all their problems. He would perform ‘hawan’ to chase away ‘ghosts’ and troubles. Our father would also go there sometimes,” another daughter, aged 18, said. 

Some villagers in Mevali offered similar assessments of the priest. “He was not a man of character, he didn’t look at women the right way but still was somehow famous for his expertise on tantric vidya,” one of the villagers said. 

Two senior police officers probing the case said, on the condition of anonymity, that they are investigating the “black magic angle”. 

“We are looking into it rigorously, there seems to be some connection. The accused got her home after the crime,” one of the officers said.

Also Read: Hours of wait, protest & cremation without family — a night in Hathras rape victim’s village

The probe 

The family said they first became suspicious about the three suspects because they dropped their mother off without saying anything, and brought her home instead of taking her to hospital. 

“Had they not done anything, they would have taken her to hospital. They didn’t even wait for us to open the door completely (before leaving),” said the son. 

However, police personnel told ThePrint that the investigation so far suggests that the accused might have taken the woman to a private hospital at Chandausi, Sambhal district, Sunday night before bringing her home. 

“Mevali village falls near the border of Budaun and Sambhal, so they might have taken her there. But the hospital, according to our initial probe, refused admission. We are following up with the hospital to confirm the same. We are also looking into why, if she was taken to hospital, the standard protocol of alerting us was not followed,” a senior police officer said. 

Requesting anonymity, police personnel said the two suspects in custody have told them that, on the day of the crime, it was the priest who had called them for help, saying that a woman had fallen into the dry well on the temple premises. 

The 27ft well lies inside a dilapidated room. 

However, according to police, the alleged crime scene is the priest’s room next to the well. Forensic evidence, including swabs, were collected from the temple premises Tuesday after the FIR was lodged. One of the two unnamed officers quoted above said they had found blood stains on the charpai of the priest, on the temple premises, and near the well too.

Budaun police personnel near the alleged crime scene in village Mevali | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Budaun police personnel near the alleged crime scene in village Mevali | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

The woman’s family says the priest was initially apprehended by villagers around 7 am Monday but managed to flee with the help of some aides. He was finally arrested Thursday night. Earlier, discussing their search for him, SSP Kumar had said that they had alerted all the nearby districts and announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for information about his whereabouts. 

“Only after the priest is held will the case attain further clarity,” Kumar had said at the time. 

Also Read: She left for BA admission, came back ‘dying’ — what happened to Balrampur ‘rape’ victim


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