Three suspects have been taken into custody “for interrogation” by the police in connection with the rape and murder of three sisters near Murmadi village in Bhandara district of Maharashtra. “We cannot say they are culprits or suspects. We have rounded them up only for interrogation,” Bhandara Superintendent of Police Dr. Arati Singh told The Hindu .

The police had declared that the three sisters, who went missing on February 14 and were found dead inside a well near the village after two days, were “raped and then killed.”

Meanwhile, villagers from Lakhani, Murmadi and other nearby villages led by BJP MLA Nana Patole blocked National Highway No.6 for about five hours on Wednesday demanding CBI inquiry into the case. They expressed anguish over “slow investigations” by the police.

The Maharashtra Government has declared a Rs.10 lakh compensation for the family of the three girls. But their mother said she does not want the money. “Instead use it for speedier investigation into the case and catch the culprits,” she said.

Union Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, under whose constituency the village falls, visited the family and demanded that “the culprits in this heinous crime should be given stringent punishment.”

Mr. Patel also said that there should be an inquiry into police laxity as alleged by the villagers and the victims’ family .

“When my granddaughters did not return home on February 14, we searched around and at 9 p.m., we went to the Lakhani police station to lodge a complaint. But our complaint was registered only at 1.30 am next day,” alleged the grandfather of the victims. Inspector Prakash Munde of Lakhani police station, who was shifted to Bhandara city on February 17, has been suspended, informed SP Arati Singh.

Police have formed ten teams for the investigation into the case. One team has been sent to Rajasthan, after the villagers suspected the role of blanket sellers from Rajasthan.

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