Two days after they went missing from school, their bodies were found in a well

Police on Monday declared that three sisters whose bodies were found in a well on Saturday near Murmadi village in Lakhani town of Bhandara district in Maharashtra “were raped and then killed”.

The girls, aged 11, 8, and 6, went missing on February 14 from their village. The grandfather of the girls had lodged a police complaint the same day after the girls’ classmates brought back only the school bags of the two younger sisters.

A villager found the bodies in a well at a farmhouse about half a km from the village.

Speaking to reporters here on Monday, Inspector General (IG) of Police, Nagpur Range, Rajendra Singh, said: “The findings of the post-mortem report suggested that there was sexual assault on all three girls. But the report is not clear on how they were killed.”

Tensions are running high in Bhandara district with politicians giving a bandh call and demanding the arrest of the culprits.

Initially, police said the girls were killed in an accident, but on Sunday thousands of people from Murmadi, Lakhani and nearby villages blocked the National Highway 6 for over six hours, calling the death of three sisters as murder and demanding swift action in the case.

Police also resorted to lathi charge to control the crowd.

The girls had lost their father five years ago and were being brought up by their mother and grandparents. Bhandara SP Arati Singh has been camping in Lakhani town and a larger number of police personnel have been deployed in and around the area. The victims’ family and villagers alleged laxity on the part of Lakhani Police Inspector Munde, after which he was shifted to Bhandara city.