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A day after two people were arrested for the alleged murder of a three-year-old girl in Aligarh, the National Security Act was invoked against them.

The Uttar Pradesh Police has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case and sent the forensic samples to a laboratory in Agra for further examination.

This case will be investigated under the National Security Act (NSA), an anti-terror law that enables detention of suspects who pose a threat to national security for a year, say the police. Five policemen have been suspended for negligence.

The family and relatives of the child blocked roads in protest on Thursday and had to be pacified by senior police officials. The protesters reportedly want the other family members of the arrested men also be arrested for the murder.

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The murder came to light on June 2, 2019 when stray dogs started to drag out the mutilated body of the child from a garbage dump.

So far, two people, identified as Aslam and Zahid, have been arrested in the case.

The police say Zahid had taken a loan of Rs. 50,000 from the girl’s grandfather and still owed him Rs. 10,000, over which the two had a fight two days before the child was kidnapped.

The child’s body was found close to her home on the outskirts of Aligarh. Zahid and Aslam lived less than half a km away and knew the family well. So brazen was their act of “revenge”, say the police, that they left the body at the garbage dump near their house.

The Aligarh police say the child was strangled. The post-mortem has not confirmed rape but the police say stringent charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act have been added against two accused, Zahid and Aslam.

The police said the child’s eyes were not gouged out, as her family alleges, but appeared so because the body was heavily decomposed. An arm and a leg were also broken.

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A hashtag using her name, trending on social media, has brought the case to national attention with celebrities, politicians and others tweeting about it. Nearly 50,000 tweets expressing horror and outrage have been posted in the last 24 hours and the deluge hasn’t stopped. Most have called for the harshest possible punishment for the killers. “Barbaric and evil,” many have tweeted.

May 30, the child vanished from right outside her home. Her parents, neighbours and relatives searched for her through the night before reporting her missing the next morning. Three days later, a woman who picks up trash screamed when she saw dogs nibbling at what looked like a little body wrapped in a cloth. It gave off a foul odour and was full of maggots, neighbours say.

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