Two Indian sisters have been found hanging from a tree in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in a suspected case of abduction and rape.
Police said the bodies were found on Wednesday afternoon in Lakhimpur district. They have started an investigation after the family alleged the girls had been kidnapped and raped.
Four persons have been arrested on charges of rape and murder.
The bodies have been sent for a post mortem examination, police said.
The girls, both below 18, belonged to the Dalit caste at the bottom of a deeply discriminatory Hindu hierarchy.
Despite constitutional protections, the community routinely faces prejudice and violence – a 2020 case involving the gang rape and murder of a 19-year Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district sparked a public outcry, spotlighting how vulnerable Dalit women were.
This case too has triggered protests by locals and opposition parties.
Local media reported that the girls’ mother said the pair had been taken by men on motorcycles. She says she was attacked when she tried to stop them.
The family said they began looking for the girls and eventually found them hanging from a tree.
According to local media, the police met with some resistance when they went to the girls’ home, where locals had joined the family in protest.
There is deep suspicion of the police among the Dalit community. Authorities were accused of apathy and of protecting the upper caste accused following the assault in Hathras. The victim’s family also alleged that she had been cremated forcibly without giving them a chance to say goodbye.
Uttar Pradesh, in Indian’s north, is the country’s most populated state with over 200 million people – and has a record of violence against women and Dalits.
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