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UPDATE: A Priest & 3 Other Men Charged with Raping Girl, 9, Throwing Her in Fire

Four men have been formally charged following the death of a young girl, who was discovered raped and set on fire in early August.

According to CNN, four male suspects, including Hindu priest Radhey Shyam, have been formally charged with murder, rape, evidence destruction, and several other crimes in connection with the death of a 9-year-old girl.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, the incident happened in New Delhi (India) as the girl went to a nearby crematorium on August 5 to fetch water for her family. Once she arrived, a group of men allegedly abducted her, gang-raped her, killed her, and threw her into an open fire.

According to BBC News, the victim’s parents are Dalits, meaning beggars with little means to survive. They said the victim was their only child and was supposed to be gone for only a few minutes since the crematorium is near their home.

“When she didn’t return for over an hour, I went searching for her. At the crematorium, I found her lying on the ground. Her lips were blue, there was blood under her nose, she had bruises on her hands and arms and her clothes were wet,” the child’s mother said.

The woman reportedly said that Shyam told her the girl had been accidentally electrocuted while at the crematorium. He then allegedly tried to bribe the mother with money and asked her not to tell the police.

Melted candles are seen next to a placard at a demonstration site outside a crematorium where a 9-year-old girl from the lowest rung of India’s caste system was, according to her parents and protesters, raped and killed earlier this week, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

“I was shocked and asked the priest to tell me how my daughter could die. I told him I wanted to take her to the police station and hospital but he refused, saying, ‘Don’t do that. I will give you money but let’s settle the matter here. You will not be able to fight the case,” the mother told Al Jazeera.

The mother, who confronted Shyam at the crematorium, saw her daughter’s body briefly before the priest allegedly shut the gates and wouldn’t let her in.

Shyam and his associates then started burning the child, the mother said, despite her protests.

The child’s father said he ran to the crematorium with numerous villagers but by the time he arrived, most of his daughter’s body had been burned. The villagers joined in and tried to put out the fire, but could only retrieve the victim’s ankles and feet.

A pyre inside a crematorium where a 9-year-old girl from the lowest rung of India’s caste system was cremated, earlier this week is secured by police, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. Angry villagers held a protest saying the girl was raped and killed. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

NBC reports that anger and hysteria ensued following the child’s death. Hundreds of protesters gathered earlier this month to protest for several days in a row. Despite the arrests, protesters said that murderers and child rapists should face the death penalty, despite their status.

“This is not an isolated incident. It’s just that it came to light. Sexual violence against women, particularly those from backward classes, is common in this country and they have to struggle hard to get justice,” New Delhi women’s rights activist Suman Dixit told Al Jazeera.

Check back for updates.

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[Featured Photo: Pixabay]