India arrests 3rd suspect in gang rape of 2 teens

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India Sexual Assault, Rape Protests
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India arrests 3rd suspect in gang rape of 2 teens
Women activists of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) scuffle with policewomen as they are prevented to proceed during a protest against recent incidents of rape of schoolgirls, in Bangalore, India, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Two people have been arrested by police in two separate incidents of rape of a 3 -year-old and 6-year-old girl of two different schools last month in this technology hub of India. Indian officials, who for decades had done little about sexual violence, have faced growing public anger since the December 2012 fatal gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, an attack that sparked national outrage. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
People drive vintage cars decorated with colored balloons printed with messages denouncing rape during a rally organized to create awareness about sexual violence against women and children, in Bangalore, India, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. The rape of a 6-year-old girl had created outrage in this technology hub of India last month. Indian officials, who for decades had done little about sexual violence, have faced growing public anger since the December 2012 fatal gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, an attack that sparked national outrage. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
People drive vintage cars decorated with colored balloons printed with messages denouncing rape during a rally organized to create awareness about sexual violence against women and children, in Bangalore, India, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. The rape of a 6-year-old girl had created outrage in this technology hub of India last month. Indian officials, who for decades had done little about sexual violence, have faced growing public anger since the December 2012 fatal gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, an attack that sparked national outrage. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
A girl plays with colored balloons printed with messages denouncing rape next to a 1948 Morris before the start of a vintage car rally organized to create awareness about sexual violence against women and children, in Bangalore, India, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. The rape of a 6-year-old girl had created outrage in this technology hub of India last month. Indian officials, who for decades had done little about sexual violence, have faced growing public anger since the December 2012 fatal gang rape of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, an attack that sparked national outrage. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokeswoman Kanchan Prasad speaks to journalists in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. India's top federal investigative agency said Thursday that the two teenage girls believed to have been raped and hanged by their attackers six months ago in a north Indian village actually committed suicide. The local police's probe and post-mortem reports were both faulty and wrong persons were arrested, said Prasad. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
A veiled-face demonstrator chants in mockery; "Women go cook, women go have children," during the "Slutwalk,"an annual protest march against sexual harassment, on Copacabana Beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer's flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped or victimized, have become annual marches in many countries including the U.S., India and Germany, to protest against discrimination and violence against women. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A military police officer aims a rubber bullet gun, shouting "get back," at demonstrators who were trying to extend the space they were allowed to march in during the "Slutwalk,"an annual protest march against sexual harassment, on Copacabana Beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer's flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped or victimized, have become annual marches in many countries including the U.S., India and Germany, to protest against discrimination and violence against women. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Military police push back demonstrators for trying to extend the space they were allowed to march in during the "Slutwalk,"an annual protest march against sexual harassment, on Copacabana Beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer's flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped or victimized, have become annual marches in many countries including the U.S., India and Germany, to protest against discrimination and violence against women. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)(AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A woman shouts slogans as she holds a sign that reads in Portuguese; "Lesbian, Black, and Prostitute," during the "Slutwalk,"an annual protest march against sexual harassment, on Copacabana Beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer's flippant comment that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped or victimized, have become annual marches in many countries including the U.S., India and Germany, to protest against discrimination and violence against women. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
An Indian protester with a slogan painted on his face participates in a demonstration to protest against police inaction after a six-year-old was allegedly raped in a school, in Bangalore, India, Sunday, July 20, 2014. More than a hundred protesters gathered Sunday and demanded that police arrest those involved in the July 2 incident, which was reported only this past week. The rape has raised questions about the safety of India's schoolchildren and sparked nationwide outrage over rampant sexual violence against girls and women. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
A woman protester holds a placard as she participates in a protest against alleged police inaction after a six-year-old was raped at a school, in Bangalore, India, Saturday, July 19, 2014. More than 4,000 parents and relatives of children who attend the school shouted slogans against the school's administration Saturday and demanded that police arrest those involved in the July 2 incident, which was reported only this past week. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
A parent holds high a doll belonging to her child as she participates in a protest against alleged police inaction after a six-year-old was raped at a school, in Bangalore, India, Saturday, July 19, 2014. More than 4,000 parents and relatives of children who attend the school shouted slogans against the school's administration Saturday and demanded that police arrest those involved in the July 2 incident, which was reported only this past week. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
People watch members of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union shout slogans during a protest against a gang rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 30, 2014. A top government official said the northern Uttar Pradesh state has sacked two police officers who failed to respond to a complaint by the father of the two teenage girls who went missing and were later found gang raped and killed. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Members of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union shout slogans as they participate in a protest against a gang rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 30, 2014. A top government official said the northern Uttar Pradesh state has sacked two police officers who failed to respond to a complaint by the father of the two teenage girls who went missing and were later found gang raped and killed. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Members of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union shout slogans during a protest against a gang rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 30, 2014. A top government official said the northern Uttar Pradesh state has sacked two police officers who failed to respond to a complaint by the father of the two teenage girls who went missing and were later found gang raped and killed. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Members of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union shout slogans during a protest against a gang rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 30, 2014. A top government official said the northern Uttar Pradesh state has sacked two police officers who failed to respond to a complaint by the father of the two teenage girls who went missing and were later found gang raped and killed. The placard at right reads, "Punish the culprits of gang-rape and murder of two Dalit girls." (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A member of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union shouts slogans during a protest against a gang rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 30, 2014. A top government official said the northern Uttar Pradesh state has sacked two police officers who failed to respond to a complaint by the father of the two teenage girls who went missing and were later found gang raped and killed. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, poses for the media with his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Modi met with the leaders of rival Pakistan and other neighboring nations on Tuesday, a day after being sworn in. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, comes out to receive the speaker of Bangladesh's Parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Modi met with the leaders of rival Pakistan and other neighboring nations on Tuesday, a day after being sworn in. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, shakes hand with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Analysts say Sharif's visit could signal an easing of tensions between the often-hostile, nuclear-armed neighbors. No details were given about what the two men would discuss, but Modi is likely to ask Pakistan to hasten investigations into the Mumbai attack and put its perpetrators on trial. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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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.

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