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India arrests 3rd suspect in gang rape of 2 teens



By BISWAJEET BANERJEE

LUCKNOW, India (AP) - Police arrested a third suspect and hunted for two others Saturday in the gang rape and slaying of two teenage cousins found hanging from a tree in northern India, a case that has prompted national outrage.

The three suspects detained in the attack in Uttar Pradesh state are cousins in their 20s from an extended family, and they face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty, said police officer N. Malik. Two fugitive suspects from the same village are also being sought, he said.

Facing growing criticism for a series of rapes, authorities in Uttar Pradesh - which has a long-standing reputation for lawlessness - also arrested two police officers and fired two others Friday for failing to investigate when the father of one of the teenagers reported the girls missing earlier in the week.

India has a long history of tolerance for sexual violence. But the gang rape, which was followed by TV footage showing the corpses of the 14- and 15-year-old girls swaying as they hung from a mango tree, triggered outrage across the nation. The father who reported the girls missing, Sohan Lal, has demanded a federal probe.

"I don't expect justice from the state government as state police officers shielded the suspects," said Lal, a poor farm laborer who refused to accept a payment for 500,000 rupees ($8,500) offered by the state government as financial help. He told reporters Saturday that he would accept no financial assistance until the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's FBI, takes over the investigation.

Such government payments are common in India when poor families face high-profile calamities, and Lal's unusual refusal - particularly for a man living in desperate poverty - was likely to focus attention on his demands for a federal investigation.

With pressure mounting on the state government to act swiftly, Akhilesh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh's top elected official, said he was recommending to the federal government a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Under Indian law, a state can only make a recommendation, and it is then up to the federal government to ask the CBI to investigate.

Rahul Gandhi, a leader of the opposition Congress party, visited the families of the two girls on Saturday and endorsed the demand for a federal investigation.

"The state has a jungle rule," said Rita Bahugana, another Congress party leader.

Dozens of members of the All India Democratic Women's Association marched Saturday through the streets of New Delhi, India's capital, demanding the immediate arrest of the two fugitive suspects and justice for the victims. "Enough is enough. Women will not tolerate such atrocities any longer," the protesters chanted, asking state authorities to take crimes against women seriously.

Uttar Pradesh officials initially appeared caught off guard by the reaction to the attack on the two girls. On Friday, the state's top official mocked journalists for asking about it.

"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?"

Ashish Gupta, a state inspector-general of police, pointed out to journalists that 10 rapes are reported every day in Uttar Pradesh, which has 200 million people and is India's most populous state. Gupta said 60 percent of such crimes happen when women go into the fields because their homes have no toilets.

The girls in the latest incident were attacked in the tiny village of Katra, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) from Lucknow. They disappeared Tuesday night after going into fields near their home to relieve themselves.

Lal went to police to report them missing, but he said they refused to help. That infuriated his neighbors, who, once the bodies were discovered, refused to allow them to be taken down from the tree until the first arrests were made.

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. The chief minister is also a Yadav.

Also in Uttar Pradesh state, police on Thursday arrested three men for brutally attacking the mother of a rape victim after she refused to withdraw her complaint.

The attack, in the town of Etawah, followed the May 11 rape of the woman's teenage daughter. The arrests were made after the mother filed a complaint with authorities.

Official statistics say about 25,000 rapes are committed every year in India, a nation of 1.2 billion people. Activists, though, say that number is just a tiny percentage of the actual number, since victims are often pressed by family or police to stay quiet about sexual assaults.

Indian officials, who for decades had done little about sexual violence, have faced growing public anger since the December 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, an attack that sparked national outrage.

The nationwide outcry led the federal government to rush legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. The law also makes it a crime for officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
stevieb4444 May 31 2014 at 8:20 AM

i think if the indian gov't started castrating these idiots in public, the rapes would come to a screaching halt. and if any of you people out there think that that is too harsh, ask the rape victims how they feel....

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12 replies
steverotert May 31 2014 at 9:18 AM

Everybody is focused on the rape aspect of this crime. Didn't anyone or even the journalist who wrote the headline notice that the two girls were also KILLED?

Flag Reply +56 rate up
3 replies
msommajr May 31 2014 at 8:03 AM

STOP ALL U.S AID TO INDIA ...NOW!!!

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8 replies
nelson May 31 2014 at 7:54 AM

Tie piano wire around their testicles , tie the other end on a bumper of a car and step on the gas.

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7 replies
ONELIMIE May 31 2014 at 9:21 AM

the whole world & it's leaders need to condemn India & Pakistan for these crimes that seem to go unpunished & continue.....hold them up in front of the world to be accountable.....these poor girls (& all the others) did nothing to deserve this.

Flag Reply +45 rate up
2 replies
J`far S.A.B.N.W. ONELIMIE May 31 2014 at 11:35 AM

Pakistan never had tollerence for this. Haven't you payed attention to all the news stories from there? They punish more of the criminals and investigate at a higher rate then here. After all they punish for fornication and adultery and protect the victims.

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8 replies
monty14sd ONELIMIE May 31 2014 at 4:30 PM

NO PERSON EEEVVVEEEERRR DESERVES THIS

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1 reply
monty14sd monty14sd May 31 2014 at 4:31 PM

NO MATTER WHAT THEY WEAR, HOW MUCH THEY DRINK, WHETHER THEY ARE YOUR WIFE OR GIRLFRIEND, OR HOW MUCH YOU HATE WOMEN

Flag +9 rate up
singh6485 May 31 2014 at 9:00 AM

I agree the U.S.A should stop all Aid to India this is only way the politican in India would understand that the world is looking at them.

Flag Reply +33 rate up
2 replies
J`far S.A.B.N.W. singh6485 May 31 2014 at 11:34 AM

If you read the article it lays forth what is a crime there. It is a bigger deal in India for a woman to be raped. It takes more from a woman in a country where STDs are not caught by most in their life.

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3 replies
masterinbama singh6485 May 31 2014 at 2:30 PM

keep them in india then maybe an american can own a quickiemart or motel in the usa leave them alone the less to import here to take jobs

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2 replies
hokanut masterinbama June 01 2014 at 1:00 AM

They don't need to come here to take our jobs. Ever called a tech. support number and spoken with "Ralph" who has a very strong and curious accent?

Flag +1 rate up
ChingOW Mango masterinbama June 01 2014 at 1:25 AM

Exactly but we won't get the 5 year tax break those from india get - and when their tax break time is almost up they sell the business like the ones you mentioned to a family member who then sells it to another at the end of their tax break period. How do I know this - because when I opened a small business years ago and was having trouble filing out papes & getting forms the nice lady said to me too bad you aren't from india you could come in and we would do it for you! Then she also told me about the outrageous tax breaks these foreigners get - how nice - great work US govt!

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foxylynx May 31 2014 at 9:44 AM

This is so heinous, I don't even know what to say - just a barbaric and disgusting act that goes beyond violence.

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2 replies
CAMERON foxylynx May 31 2014 at 12:18 PM

I agree

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1 reply
Christine CAMERON May 31 2014 at 2:18 PM

you know how the old saying goes if you can"t do the time don"t do the crime. they do not deserve to live but they will answer to higher authority.

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kyledddc foxylynx May 31 2014 at 11:04 PM

The cause of this heinous act just may be the fact that females have their hand over it a lot..you know, blocking access to it and such... hehe

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3 replies
pcclsky May 31 2014 at 9:04 AM

I'd be outraged too, but these people are trying to get rid of a symptom, not the disease. It's the caste system that needs to be done away with if they want everyone in that society to be treated like a human being.

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1 reply
mathomps pcclsky May 31 2014 at 4:27 PM

The cast system was done away with decades ago. Try to keep up. But just like when we ended it here (slavery) the effects can still be be felt for a long long time after.

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1 reply
PERFORATOR mathomps May 31 2014 at 6:28 PM

Those who feel effected by slavery need to find some way to flee this horrible country and return to their tribes!

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Meh... May 31 2014 at 10:07 AM

Alright! Finally the people speak out against what is happening in their own country. About time. Other countries could stand to do the same.

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3 replies
Mike May 31 2014 at 7:48 AM

25,000 rapes every year?!?!?!?!? More like every day!

Flag Reply +13 rate up
6 replies
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