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Priest plus three men charged with rape of girl, 9, found dead in crematorium

Four men and a Hindu priest have been charged with the alleged rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in India.

The young girl, who lived in New Delhi, was found dead after her mother asked her to fetch water from the local crematorium on August 1.

The men who have been charged were initially arrested on August 2, the the Ministry of Home Affairs has said the men could face the death penalty if found guilty, reports CNN.

According to the mother's statement the priest called and showed her the body of her dead child claiming that she had been electrocuted.

The girl was reportedly found dead with wet clothes, a bloodied nose, bruised hands and arms, and blue lips, on the crematorium floor.

The priest and three other crematorium employees then convinced both the victim's parents to cremate the body rather than involve the police, which would be a hassle, it has been claimed.

The men told her not to phone the police, claiming officers would 'steal her organs and sell them' and also demand an autopsy.

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The incident later caused outrage in the victim's community where about 200 villagers gathered calling for justice before the accused were arrested.

The alleged rape and murder has subsequently caused widespread protest in India, with protesters burning effigies of prime minister Narendra Modi and accusing him of failing to condemn the alleged crimes.

Members of the Dalit community, which the girl was part of, have taken to the internet to express their outrage, and say the incident was a 'caste crime'.

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Anil Kumar, a 46-year-old protester told CNN there was "complete lawlessness" in New Delhi.

"A 9-year-old is raped and the administration was sleeping," he said. "We want the harshest punishment for the accused, an example should be set by the government. Women's safety cannot be taken lightly."

The girl supplemented her parents' meagre income as ragpickers by begging at a shrine in Delhi’s Nangli area, according to the Independent.

Official figures show that members of the lower castes are particularly vulnerable to such crimes in India.

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