The recovery of seven-year-old Kashish Chand's body who was raped and murdered in Haldwani sparked massive protests in the Kumaon region. While schools, colleges and market areas remained closed in Pithoragarh, Kashish's home district, protests and shutdowns were also seen in Haldwani and Almora.
Kashish along with her parents came to Haldwani to attend her maternal uncle Krishna Chand's marriage on November 18. She went missing from the reception ceremony at Sheeshmahal Ramlila Maidan on November 20. Five days later, her body, with injury marks on face, hands and legs, was found from the forest area near Gaula riverbed. Postmortem confirmed that the girl died due to hemorrhage because of sexual assault. One of her legs and hands was also found fractured.
The girl's family members, including her father Mahesh Chand, refused to cremate the body and sat on protest at Sheeshmahal in Haldwani on Wednesday. They said they would perform Kashish's last rites only when her murderers would be identified and bo0ked. Despite assurance from senior police officers, the family members refused to relent and call off the protest.
Uttarakhand Director General of police B S Sidhu told TOI, "The report confirms that she had expired about five days back, which suggests that she died on the night she was abducted." He added that several important evidences related to the crime had been collected and that he was optimistic that the culprits would soon be behind bars.
Other senior officers such as ADG law and order Ram Singh Meena and STF SSP Sadanand Date have camped in Haldwani to assist in the probe. "Seven police teams, besides a team of forensic experts is working on the matter. We are close to cracking the case," said Sidhu.
Meanwhile, markets in Pithoragarh wore a deserted look and traffic came to a virtual standstill as thousands of people belonging to different sections of the society came out to protest against the heinous crime. Angry locals took out a procession on the main road of the city and organized a gherao of the SP office. They demanded that the culprits must be immediately arrested.
Advocate Nirmal Chaudhary, secretary, Pithoragarh Bar Association, said that this was one of the biggest protests organized by the residents. "People are deeply hurt. Even the judicial work in the district remained paralyzed as all lawyers came out to extend support to the aggrieved family," he said.
District president of Prantiya Uudyog Vyapar Mandal, Pawan Joshi said Mahesh Chand is a trader and a well-known personality in the district. "He is like a family member in the trading fraternity. Therefore all of us are with him in his fight for justice."
Social worker Dinesh Bhatt demanded death penalty for those involved in the crime. "We have never heard of such a brutal crime in Pithoragarh. People are literally enraged," he said.
ADG law and order Ram Singh Meena said police was working on some important clues and possibilities were that the culprits would be soon arrested. "We are trying to convince the family members to perform the final rituals," he said