Etah rape and murder: Grieving family members of the eight-year-old girl hug her body

Lucknow:  An eight-year-old girl attending a wedding with her parents was raped and strangled in Uttar Pradesh last evening, in a horrific repeat of the Kathua gang-rape and killing that has left India struggling with rage and grief. A child was also raped and murdered in Gujarat's Surat.

An 18-year-old from the village in Etah where the family was attending the wedding has been arrested. Shockingly, he was found lying drunk, right next to the child's body.

The incident took place around 1:30 am, during wedding rituals in which loud music was being played. The parents of the girl were busy when the accused teen, Sonu, drew her to a half-built house and allegedly raped her. He later allegedly choked her to death.

"He took her inside and raped her and then murdered her. At 1:30 am, some function was on. He took the opportunity to drag her some distance away and rape her," said the child's father.

Sonu worked in a tent-house that puts up wedding marquees in the village. The girl's family was from a nearby village and related to the bride.

When people realised that the girl had been missing for a while, they started a search and found her body and the drunk teen. He has been charged under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences or POCSO Act. 

The Etah rape and murder is a horrific repeat of the Kathua gang-rape and killing that has left India struggling with rage and grief

"The girl is about eight-nine years old. She was raped and also she was strangled to death. The accused was nearby, he has been arrested," said police officer Akhilesh Chaurasia.

This is the second child rape and killing to be reported in the past few days and the third since the kidnapping, gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir in January.

In Surat, an 11-year-old was raped and murdered and then her body was dumped earlier this month. She had 86 injuries and was also brutalised with blunt objects.

The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is already fighting public anger over the rape of a teen allegedly by a ruling party lawmaker in Unnao.

The rapes have provoked mass protests across India and a frenzy of hashtags and posts on social media.