In­dia po­lice fired over hanged girls

Warwickshire Telegraph - - UK & WORLD - Sam Lis­ter PA Re­porter

TWO po­lice of­fi­cers who failed to in­ves­ti­gate the dis­ap­pear­ance of two teenage girls in In­dia who were gang-raped and later found hang­ing from a tree have been fired.

The fir­ings came as the top of­fi­cial in the north In­dian state of Ut­tar Pradesh, where the in­ci­dent took place, mocked jour­nal­ists for ask­ing about the at­tack.

“Aren’t you safe? You’re not fac­ing any dan­ger, are you?” Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter Akhilesh Ya­dav said in Luc­know, the state cap­i­tal. “Then why are you wor­ried? What’s it to you?”

The gang rape, with video of the cousins’ bod­ies hang­ing from a mango tree, was the top story on In­dia’s 24-hour news sta­tions. But over the past few days, Ut­tar Pradesh has also seen the mother of a rape vic­tim at­tacked and a 17-year-old girl gang-raped by four men.

Ut­tar Pradesh is In­dia’s most pop­u­lous state, with nearly 200 mil­lion people.

Of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics say about 25,000 rapes are com­mit­ted ev­ery year in In­dia, a na­tion of 1.2 bil­lion people. But ac­tivists say that num­ber is very low, since women are of­ten pressed by fam­ily or po­lice to stay quiet about sex­ual as­saults.

In­dian po­lice and politi­cians have faced grow­ing pub­lic anger since the De­cem­ber 2013 gan­grape and mur­der of a young woman on a New Delhi bus, an at­tack that sparked na­tional ou­trage over the treat­ment of women.

The state’s for­mer chief min­is­ter has lashed out at the rul­ing govern­ment.

“There is no law and or­der in the state,” said Mayawati, who uses only one name. “It is the law of the jun­gle.”

Hours later, the chief min­is­ter or­dered that sus­pects in the at­tack be tried in spe­cial “fast track” courts, to get around In­dia’s no­to­ri­ously slow ju­di­cial sys­tem.

The girls, who were 14 and 15, were raped in the vil­lage of Ka­tra, about 180 miles (300 kilo­me­ters) from Luc­know.

Po­lice say they dis­ap­peared on Tues­day night af­ter go­ing into fields near their home to re­lieve them­selves, since their house has no toi­let.

The fa­ther of one girl went to po­lice that night to re­port them miss­ing, but he said they re­fused to help.

When the bod­ies were dis­cov­ered the next day, an­gry vil­lagers silently protested about the po­lice in­ac­tion by re­fus­ing to al­low the bod­ies to be cut down from the tree.

The vil­lagers al­lowed au­thor­i­ties to take down the bod­ies af­ter the first ar­rests were made on Wed­nes­day. Po­lice ar­rested two po­lice of­fi­cers and two men from the vil­lage, and were search­ing for three more sus­pects.

The girls were Dal­its, from the com­mu­nity once known as “un­touch­ables” in In­dia’s an­cient caste sys­tem. The fired po­lice­men and the men ac­cused in the at­tack are Ya­davs, a low-caste com­mu­nity that dom­i­nates that part of Ut­tar Pradesh.

Mem­bers of Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity Stu­dents Union shout slo­gans dur­ing a protest against the gang rape of two teenage girls in In­dia.

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