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Accused had strangulated 5-year-old Odisha girl when she resisted rape, had tried to rape her dead body: SIT

SIT chief IPS Arun Bothra has stated in a press conference that there is substantial evidence against accused Saroj Sethi. He stated that the accused was addicted to child pornography and sexual assault was the only motive behind the crime.

The Special Investigation Team(SIT) on Sunday arrested a person in connection with the sensational kidnapping and murder of the Nayagarh minor girl in Odisha. A day later, on Monday, the SIT informed that it has sufficient evidence against the arrestee, also the prime accused in the case.

Speaking to the media persons in Jadupur of Nayagarh, SIT Chief Arun Bothra said that the accused was questioned several times during the last 10 days after which the police arrested him.

SIT has enough evidence against the prime accused: SIT chief Arun Bothra

“The SIT has acquired sufficient evidence against the accused. We got critical evidence after questioning him multiple times over the span of the last 10 days. Based on the evidence from his statements, we have arrested him. I would like to confirm the fact that this man is the prime accused. Any of his associates’ involvement in the case is still under investigation,” SIT Chief Arun Bothra said while adding that though the two stages of investigation—detection and arrest have been completed—the police continues probing the case.

As per Bothra’s presser, the frock belonging to the 5-year-old girl bore semen stains which revealed that the victim was subjected to sexual assault. The SIT probe also found that a part of the clothing of the victim was missing.

Explaining the intent behind the incident, SIT Chief Bothra said that sexual assault was the main reason behind the crime. He said that the investigation would continue and a charge-sheet will be filed in the court once the probe is completed, after which the trial will begin in the court.

Meanwhile, the prime accused, a man named Saroj Sethi who was arrested on Sunday, was subjected to a bone ossification test, which revealed that he is above 18 years of age. The accused was produced before the Special Court-cum-ADJ POCSO Court in Nayagarh which allowed the SIT to take him on remand for three days from Tuesday.

Saroj Sethi, the prime accused in the case was addicted child pornography: Bothra

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, SIT chief Arun Bothra said that the possession of a smartphone and easy access to child pornography was a major factor which fuelled sexual assault against the minor girl. Bothra added that the prime accused Saroj Sethi was addicted to child pornography.

“Saroj Sethi was addicted to child pornography and had saved many such porn videos on his mobile phone. He had saved them in a separate folder and locked them with a password. On July 13, a day before the incident happened, Saroj had watched porn videos throughout the night. And the next day when the girl came to his house, this is what fuelled his sexual desperation,” Bothra said while sharing the details of the investigation.

The IPS officer stated that just because the minor girl was close to Sethi’s sister and used to routinely visit their house, on July 14 too, the victim went to their house to collect some Jamun from their backyard, unbeknownst to the fact the mother and sister had gone out for work. In a bid to take advantage of the situation, Sethi attempted to rape the minor girl. He had first removed her frock. When he tried to remove her leggings, the victim had cried and resisted. In his frantic desperation, the accused had strangulated her. He had put the girl’s body with her frock in a gunny bag and had thrown it away near the village pond, covering the bag with coconut fronds.

Bothra has also stated that the accused had tried to rape the girl’s dead body.

Bothra also claimed that the accused has confessed to his crime and as per his deposition, he had thrown the leggings of the minor girl in the village pond. Following the accused’s statement, the police have now started the process of drying the village pond. He added that there are no eyewitnesses to the crime, and the investigating team has sought the custodial remand of Sethi to interrogate him further.

Sethi had stated to media that Bothra had offered him a bribe

On the other hand, Saroj’s family has asserted that Bothra had offered them a bribe of Rs 5 lakh to admit to the crime, and had further promised to show him as a minor by understating his age by one year to reduce the punishment under the Juvenile Justice Act.

However, the claims were dismissed as fabrication by Bothra and the authorities. As per latest reports, the accused has been found to be above 18. Additionally, Bothra has stated that there is enough evidence, supported by scientific and forensic reports to prove charges in court.

Victim’s family unconvinced, demand CBI probe

However, despite the arrest in the case, the victim’s parents have expressed their disapproval with the SIT probe. “We don’t think our neighbour is the accused. The police are shielding the main accused, who is a close aide of our local MLA and minister Arun Sahu. We have been demanding a CBI probe,” they said.

The victim’s father has rubbished the SIT’s probe, stating that it is scripted. He said, “Two other girls who were playing with my daughter, had said that one Kanhu had kidnapped my child and had taken her to Babuli Nayak. Why is there no investigation on this?” he asked.

Case ignored for months, SIT after parents tried to self-immolate outside assembly

The 5-year-old girl went missing while playing near her house on July 14 and her skeletal remains were found in a gunny bag near her house 10 days later. The incident came to light when the victim’s parents tried to self-immolate outside the Odisha assembly seeking justice for their daughter on November 24. The couple tried to pour kerosene on themselves and self-immolate near the high-security zone outside the Assembly. The state government finally ordered a high court-monitored SIT investigation after the issue rocked the assembly for several days.

The couple had named one Babuli Nayak from their village as the suspect in the complaint filed by the police. Alleging harassment by police officials, the couple said that their daughter was killed by people close to BJD Minister Arun Sahu and that they were driven out of the village for demanding action against the culprits. They alleged that the killers had gouged out their daughter’s eyes and kidneys.

The 5-year-old child’s remains, with bones and body parts chopped off, was dumped at the couple’s backyard 10 days after the kidnapping. The family has been alleging that it is possible that she was killed for her organs. However, the SIT probe rejected the organ theft angle, stating that sexual desperation fuelled the crime. In October, the couple had claimed that the murderers of their daughter had also tried to kill them while they were in the hospital.

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