KATRA SHAHADATGANJ: The father of one of two girls gang-raped and lynched in northern India demanded Sunday that those arrested over the attacks be hanged amid mounting uproar over the crime.
As outrage grew over violence against Indian women and girls, police reported a separate attack in the same state — in which a teenage girl was doused with kerosene and set alight after her father became involved in a property dispute. The father of one of the murdered girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he has refused compensation from the government of Uttar Pradesh state whom he blamed for failing to stop the attacks last Tuesday evening.
The father said he only wanted justice for the men who attacked his daughter and niece, aged 14 and 12, who were found hanging from a tree the following morning. He made the comments after a string of politicians descended on the dirt-poor village in Budaun district of Uttar Pradesh in the wake of the attacks, which federal police have been ordered to investigate. “We have only made one demand from each politician who has visited us in the last two days: we want justice,” he told AFP. “We want the same treatment to the accused that they gave to our daughters — they should be hung from a tree.”
Five people have been arrested over the attack which occurred when the cousins, from low castes, headed into the fields to relieve themselves because their homes, like most in the village, lack toilets. Three men face preliminary murder and gang-rape charges while two policemen face accusations of being criminal accessories, police have said. The families of the victims have said police could have saved the girls, but claimed officers initially refused to help when they found out they were from a lower caste.
Some of the accused are from a higher caste. “The Yadav government had offered us 500,000 rupees ($8,450).. we won’t take it, it is the administration that could have saved my daughters and didn’t,” the father said Sunday. Rights groups and political opponents have accused the government in Uttar Pradesh, headed by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, of failing to tackle crimes against women. India revised its laws on sex attacks in the wake of the December 2012 gang-rape of a student on a bus in Delhi which triggered outrage, but they have done little to stem the tide of sex attacks.
Mayawati, a former chief minister of the state who is regarded as the political champion of India’s lower castes, became the latest high-profile figure to visit the village on Sunday. “In all of Uttar Pradesh there is no law and order, there is jungle raj (rule) here,” Mayawati said after landing her helicopter in Katra Shahadatganj village, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) southeast of New Delhi. There is a long history of women and girls from India’s lowest castes being sexually abused by people from higher castes. Uttar Pradesh is deeply divided along caste lines. A lawmaker from the socialist Samajwadi Party which runs the state also visited the families earlier on Sunday.
Rahul Gandhi, who led India’s Congress party to a crushing defeat in national elections last month, met the families on Saturday. The case of the 18-year-old who was set ablaze took place Saturday in Basti in another part of Uttar Pradesh. Three people have been arrested, local police official Gajendra Rai told AFP. “A scuffle broke out between the two parties over construction of a wall on the disputed piece of land,” he said. “When this girl, aged 18, came out in support of her father, she was doused with kerosene and set afire,” he said adding that she was recovering in hospital.
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