A 19-year-old who is suspected to have thrown an acid-like caustic fluid on three Dalit sisters, aged 8, 12, and 17, in Gonda district early on Tuesday, was arrested after being shot in the right leg during an exchange of fire with the police on Tuesday midnight, the police said on Wednesday morning.
The arrest of Ashish Chaurasiya alias Chottu led to a protest against the police action by local traders and residents of Paska town area. They blamed the police for framing Chaurasiya in the case and injuring him in a ‘fake encounter’ due to pressure from senior officers to solve the case.
Chaurasiya’s mother Laxmi Chaurasiya demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case.
The suspect was arrested a few hours after chief minister Yogi Adityanath asked for tough action against those responsible for the act.
Gonda additional superintendent of police (ASP) Mahendra Kumar rejected the allegations and claimed two of the three girls had told the police that they had seen Chaurasiya escaping from the house after throwing the acid-like liquid on them. He said the two girls even told the police that the suspect was wearing a green shirt at the time of the incident.
The ASP said the suspect had confessed to committing the crime during interrogation and his call detail records showed that he made 281 calls to the elder sister in a week. He said the calls were made even at odd hours and the suspect had become desperate after coming to know that her marriage had been fixed.
Kumar said the suspect had been ‘troubling’ the eldest sister for quite some time and forcing her to talk to him. The suspect lived near the girls’ house in Paska town, he alleged.
Police exchanged fire with the suspect near Baikunth Nath College on the Colonelganj-Hujurpur road when he was returning to Gonda from his sister’s place in Bahraich. He said the suspect’s motorcycle skidded when he tried to flee after spotting the police team.
The accused opened fire on the police team, following which the police fired back, the ASP claimed. He said the police team recovered a country-made firearm and cartridges from the suspect’s possession. The suspect suffered a bullet wound in the right leg, he said.
During the day, hundreds of traders and locals gathered in protest at the Paska town market, which has around 50 shops. A Paska resident and local leader Azad Singh said the traders kept the market closed, demanding an unbiased investigation in the case.
Earlier on Tuesday, the suspect had allegedly attacked the three sisters with an acid-like caustic fluid.
The eldest sister suffered major injuries with 30% burns on her face, eyes and chest, while the other two sustained minor injuries with 5% and 7% burns on their arms, respectively.
The sisters were attacked when they were sleeping in a room on the second floor of the house. The attacker is believed to have climbed up the two floors to throw the chemical at them from the open window.
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