Home minister seeks report on grisly rape, hanging of teens in Uttar Pradesh

LUCKNOW Fri May 30, 2014 5:33pm IST

Onlookers sit at the site where two girls were hanged from a tree at Badaun district in Uttar Pradesh May 28, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Onlookers sit at the site where two girls were hanged from a tree at Badaun district in Uttar Pradesh May 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer/Files

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LUCKNOW (Reuters) - New Home Minister Rajnath Singh weighed in on Friday in a grisly case in which two teenage girls were raped and hanged from a tree this week in Uttar Pradesh, as public anger and political controversy over the attack gain momentum.

The case is one of the first challenges for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his four-day-old government. It highlights the ongoing struggle to stem sexual violence in India, where a string of high-profile rapes has sparked nationwide protests and international criticism.

Singh asked the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a report on the attack, a ministry spokesman said.

Modi, a prolific Twitter user, has not yet commented on the killings in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state and a key political battleground. Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP party swept 73 of the state's 80 parliamentary seats in its landslide general election victory.

The two cousins, from a low-caste community and aged 14 and 15, went missing from their home in a village in Budaun district on Tuesday evening when they went out to go to the toilet. The next morning, villagers found their bodies hanging from a mango tree in a nearby orchard.

Local police said a post-mortem confirmed that the girls, from the Dalit community, had been raped and died from the hanging. Three men - one a policeman - have been arrested over the attack and a search is under way for two other suspects.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has ordered that the case be handled by a fast-track court "to ensure that the guilty are brought to book without the usual procedural delay", his spokesman Navneet Sehgal said.

Another Dalit teenage girl was gang-raped and strangled in the constituency of Yadav's father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, the leader of the regional Samajwadi party, on Thursday night, police said.

Mulayam Singh Yadav provoked outrage during the election campaign by saying about the death penalty for some rape cases: "Boys commit mistakes. Will they be hanged for rape?"

Mayawati, an opposition leader in the state whose party enjoys widespread Dalit support, slammed the rape and hangings as evidence of the "jungle raj" that ran the state and failed to impose law and order.

A small crowd staged a protest against the killings outside the Uttar Pradesh state government's office in Delhi on Friday afternoon.

The poor state of women's safety in India has been under the spotlight since the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in the capital Delhi in 2012, which led to the introduction of tougher rape laws.

This week's case underlined how women from lower castes were particularly vulnerable, human rights activists said.

"Members of dominant castes are known to use sexual violence against Dalit women and girls as a political tool for punishment, humiliation and assertion of power," Divya Iyer, at Amnesty International India, said in a statement.

(Writing by Shyamantha Asokan; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Nick Macfie)

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Comments (2)
InformedTopic wrote:
I figured this is what would happen now that India made rape as a death sentence. That opened the door for rape victoms to get killed leaving no witnesses behind. This is really bad and I wanted to be wrong. Sorry that all this is taking place, may god bless all the families involved. Women not only in India but all over need to stand up and be heard, excluding USA they stand up to much.

May 30, 2014 1:39am IST  --  Report as abuse
anindependent1 wrote:
It’s a sad state of affairs, but India is still in the Dark Ages when it comes to the value of women. Indian men, and consequently, it’s government, treat women as merely sex objects. Perhaps a few public castrations of Indian rapists might improve the plight of Indian women.

May 30, 2014 1:43am IST  --  Report as abuse
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