Two policemen fired after girls abducted, raped and murdered
TWO police officers who failed to respond to a complaint by the fathers of two girls found gang-raped and killed in India have been fired.
The policemen had been charged with criminal conspiracy after they refused to file a complaint or take any action when the fathers reported that the girls had been abducted.
The teenage cousins were raped and killed on Wednesday by attackers who then hung their bodies from a mango tree hours after they disappeared from fields near their home in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh.
Angry villagers held protests in the village, demanding action against the police and arrests.
Four men have been arrested in the rapes, including two other members of the police.
The girls, who were 14 and 15, had gone into the fields because there was no toilet in their home.
Hundreds of angry villagers spent the rest of Wednesday in silent protest over alleged police inaction in the case.
Indian TV channels showed video of the villagers sitting under the girls' bodies as they swung in the wind, preventing authorities from taking them down from the tree until the suspects were arrested.
Post-mortems confirmed the girls had been gang-raped and strangled before being hung, Saxena said.
The villagers accused the chief of the local police station of ignoring a complaint made by the girls' father on Tuesday night that the girls were missing.
The station chief has since been suspended.
The family belongs to the Dalit community, also called "untouchables" and considered the lowest rung in India's age-old caste system.
India tightened its anti-rape laws last year, making gang rape punishable by the death penalty. The new laws came after nationwide protests over the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in New Delhi that triggered nationwide protests.
Records show a rape is committed every 22 minutes in India, a nation of 1.2 billion people.
Activists say that number is low because of an entrenched culture of tolerance for sexual violence, which leads many cases to go unreported.
Women are often pressed by family or police to stay quiet about sexual assault, experts say, and those who do report cases are often subjected to public ridicule or social stigma.
Last month, the head of Uttar Pradesh state's governing party told an election rally that the party was opposed to the law calling for gang rapists to be executed.
"Boys will be boys," Mulayam Singh Yadav said. "They make mistakes."