Mumbai/Nagpur, Feb 20 (IANS) Appealing for calm and cooperation, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Wednesday said the incident of the three minor sisters who went missing and were later found raped and murdered was "extremely deplorable and painful".
"The incident is extremely deplorable and painful. I appeal to the people to maintain calm and cooperate with the law-enforcers," Chavan said in a statement.
Chavan also announced ex-gratia relief of Rs.10 lakh to the family of three minor sisters, who went missing, and later found raped, murdered and their bodies dumped in a well in Bhandara district, about 65 km from Nagpur, the state's second capital in eastern Maharashtra.
Home Minister R.R. Patil had earlier announced the suspension of Prakash Munde, chief of the Lakhni police station, under whose jurisdiction the crime was committed.
The girls -- aged 6, 9 and 11 -- were subjected to unnatural sex, according to an autopsy. A manhunt has been launched against the unknown perpetrators.
Police have formed 12 special teams to probe the crime, which left union Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel visibly stunned Tuesday after he visited the mother of the three girls at her home in Lakhni village, around 115 km from Bhandara town.
"As a father of three daughters, I am appalled at the atrocity committed on these girls. I have raised the matter with the chief minister to ensure financial assistance to the widow, speedy investigation and a fast track trial of the accused," Patel said.
According to officials, the three girls did not return from school last Thursday (Feb 14) and their mother lodged a missing complaint at the Lakhni police station.
Two days later, some villagers discovered their brutalised bodies from a well near Murmadi, around three kilometres from their village, following which the local police registered a case of 'accidental death'.
It was only after the villagers took to the streets, blocked traffic and protested outside the police station that a case of murder, kidnapping and rape was lodged.