Bhandara, Maharashtra: Even before India could come over the pain and anger caused by the horrific Delhi gang-rape incident, another shocker - three sisters raped, killed and their bodies were dumped in a well in Bhandara district of Maharashtra.
The numbing atrocity was committed on poor helpless girls aged 11, 8, and 6. They had gone missing on February 14 after they did not return home from school.
Two days later their bodies were found in a well near Murmadi village in Lakhani town of Bhandara district. The well is near a farmhouse and a dhaba, about half a kilometre from the village. Their tiny slippers were found next to empty liquor bottles.
Some reports suggest that the fatherless girls – mother works a domestic help and was away from home - driven by hunger had gone out to look for food and fell into a trap.
A news agency claimed that the autopsy reports suggest that the minor girls were subjected to unnatural sex.
The savagery meted out to the girls led to huge protests in the region with people taking to the streets to demand action against the culprits.
A manhunt has been launched against the unknown perpetrators. As per unconfirmed reports, two suspects have been detained; official confirmation is awaited.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the incident was "extremely deplorable and painful".
"The incident is extremely deplorable and painful. I appeal to the people to maintain calm and cooperate with the law-enforcers," Chavan said in a statement.
Chavan also announced ex-gratia relief of Rs.10 lakh to the family of three minor sisters
Home Minister RR Patil had earlier announced the suspension of Prakash Munde, chief of the Lakhni police station, under whose jurisdiction the crime was committed.