Anger in India after bodies of minor Dalit sisters found hanging from tree

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The rape and murder of two minor Dalit girls in Uttar Pradesh has created an uproar across the country after sisters were found hanging from a tree in Lakhimpur Kheri district of the northern Indian state on Wednesday.

On Thursday, police said that six accused have been arrested in connection with the case and charged under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses of India Act (POCSO), 2012.

“Six suspects have been arrested in connection with the gang-rape-murder of two minor Dalit sisters found hanging from a tree. The postmortem is going on in the presence of the victim’s family,” Lakhimpur Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Suman told reporters.

India’s 200 million Dalits, formerly untouchables, are placed at the bottom of an ancient caste hierarchy, and are often the target of discrimination, although the country abolished untouchability in 1955.

The incident comes two years after the gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in the state’s Hathras district, drawing national and international condemnation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power in Uttar Pradesh.

The state administration, led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, faced criticism for its handling of the attack in which four upper caste people were accused.

There was nationwide outrage over the police’s speedy cremation of the victim’s body, their harsh treatment of protesters and their efforts to prevent opposition politicians from meeting the victim’s family.

Lakhimpur Kheri police said on Thursday that two girls were raped before the murder.

“All the accused and the girls are from the same village. Chetram’s son Chhotu already knew the girls and it was he who introduced the girls to the three accused. Later, when the girls started forcing them for marriage, the accused hanged them by strangulation,” Lakhimpur Kheri SP Sanjay Kumar was quoted as saying Indian Express.

Apart from Chhotu alias Gautam, the other accused have been identified as Junaid, Suhail, Hafizul Rehman, Karimuddin and Arif, police said.

“Junaid was arrested after an encounter on Thursday morning and has sustained a bullet injury in one leg,” Kumar said.

According to the victim’s family, the accused took both the girls with them at around 3 pm on Wednesday.

The victim’s mother said that she was taking a bath when she heard the voice of Chotu, who often calls his daughters in their area. Soon, three boys came and started dragging her daughters.

“I tried to stop them and ran after them, but they beat me up and left. I shouted and ran back to seek help from the villagers,” he was quoted as saying.

The father of the girls has demanded capital punishment for the accused.

As the news of the girl’s death spread, the local people protested and blocked the road in the village.

The blockade was lifted after senior police officials promised strict action against the culprits.

While the state government has promised action, the opposition has targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP for the chaos in the state.

“The Lakhimpur incident is sad and unfortunate. Strictest action should be taken against all the criminals. I would expect the opposition, be it Akhilesh Yadav, Priyanka Gandhi or Mayawati, to console the family instead of politicizing it. But the rule of law prevails in Uttar Pradesh,” Deputy Chief Minister KP Maurya was quoted as saying by ANI.

Congress party’s opposition MLA Rahul Gandhi referred to the recent release and release of 11 convicts in the gang rape and murder case and said: “The broad daylight abduction and murder of two minor Dalit sisters in Lakhimpur is a very disturbing incident. . ,

“The safety of women cannot be expected from those who release and honor the rapists. We have to create a safe environment in the country for our sisters and girls.” In 2002, 11 people convicted of gang-rape and murder of Muslim woman Bilkis Bano during one of the country’s worst communal riots in Gujarat state. After serving a 15-year sentence, he was released.

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati accused the Yogi Adityanath government of misgovernance in the state.

Mayawati tweeted, ‘This incident strongly exposes the claims of the government in the matter of law and order and women’s safety etc. in UP.’

In cases of such heinous crimes including Hathras, most of the criminals are fearless because of the veil.

Wednesday’s incident is reminiscent of the death of two cousins ​​who were raped in 2014 and found hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun.

According to federal government data released last week, crimes against women in India increased by 15 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report showed that Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of crimes against women at 56,083 cases last year.

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