The brutal rape and murder of three minor Dalit girls in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district rocked the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, with all political parties seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the heinous crime.

Seeking a reply from Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, MPs expressed anger and dismay that the State police have failed miserably, as the accused are still roaming freely.

Raising the issue during zero hour, Bharatkumar Raut of the Shiv Sena said all talk of women’s empowerment was meaningless when the girl child wasn’t safe, and asked the Centre to intervene.

“Three Dalit sisters were raped and murdered and their bodies thrown into a well. Under whose protection are these culprits, with the police hesitating to arrest them, when all the villagers knew who they were?,” he asked. The bodies of three missing minor girls, all below 11 years, were found in a well at Murwadi village in Bhandara district in Nagpur on February 16.

Calling it a shameful incident, Rajni Patil of the Congress said the case should be speeded up, besides seeking protection and relief for the victims’ mother. The issue of rape of another Dalit minor, allegedly raped by her teacher, was also brought up, and proper investigation sought.

Seeking a CBI inquiry, Hussain Dalwai and Bhalchandra Mungekar, both from the Congress, said people have lost faith in the Maharashtra police, and hence the probe should be done by the CBI. “Where is the conscience of the middle class, which surfaced during the ‘Nirbhaya’ case (the paramedic who was gang-raped last month) and resulted in them thronging India Gate and Parliament? Are you dividing rape on caste lines?” Mr. Mungekar asked. He alleged that atrocities against SCs/STs weren’t looked into seriously, and as per the National Crime Records Bureau data, there were 1,000 rape cases annually, and the victims were girls belonging to such communities.