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More Suspects Detained in India Gang Rape Case

  • VOA News

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

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

Police in northern India say at least two more people have been arrested in connection with the alleged gang-rape of two teenage cousins found hanging from a tree. At least one suspect is already in custody.

The girls went missing Tuesday after going to the field to relieve themselves because their homes lacked toilets.

Villagers in the Buduan district of Uttar Pradesh state found the girls' bodies hanging from a mango tree Wednesday. Autopsies revealed that the girls had been sexually assaulted.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asked the state government to submit a report on the attack, as outrage of continuing sexual violence in India spreads.

Authorities say several men were involved in the attack and that they are looking for remaining suspects.

Police said Friday that two constables who failed to file a complaint or take action when the girls were reported missing have been fired. Another constable is one of the three suspects detained in connection with the attack.

The girls' families belong to the Dalit community, also called "untouchables," and considered the lowest rung in India's age-old caste system.

Indian media showed a gruesome photograph of villagers standing and sitting under the tree in protest while the bodies where still hanging.

Newly-appointed Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi on Friday told the Press Trust of India that "police laxity" is equally responsible for the girls' deaths and that "all policemen involved in the case should be dismissed." Gandhi said she plans to set up a "rape crisis cell" to ensure swift justice for victims.

Health workers, police and women's rights activists say women and girls face the risk of rape and harassment when they go out into fields or bushes due to the lack of toilets in their homes. The United Nations says 2.5 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation.

Elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, the mother of a rape victim was allegedly critically beaten by the father of the accused rapist. The father allegedly beat the woman because her family refused to withdraw allegations against his son.

Police say the father of the accused rapist has been arrested.

Violence against women has received increasing attention in India since December 2012 when a 23-year-old woman died after being brutally gang-raped on a New Delhi bus.

The attack sparked huge protests across the country and prompted the government to adopt tougher punishments for men who attack or harass women.
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