(Photo: REUTERS/Ajay Verma)
Two Indian teenage girls were gang-raped and hanged from a mango tree in an orchard near Katra village in Uttar Pradesh state on Wednesday, sparking hundreds to protest what they allege is police inaction.
TV footage showed hundreds of villagers sitting under the bodies later that day in silent protest of police inaction. The people are accusing the local police chief of ignoring a report by the girls' father on Tuesday night that they are missing.
Villagers apparently found the bodies of the girls, two cousins 14 and 15 years old, hanging from a tree on Wednesday.
"We have registered a case under various sections, including that of rape, and one of the accused has been taken into custody. There were five people involved, one has been arrested and we are looking for the others," Budaun Superintendent of Police Man Singh Chouhan told reporters, according to Reuters.
Chouhan added that a post-mortem has confirmed that the cousins were raped and died from the hanging. DNA samples have also been taken to help identify the attackers.
According to The Associated Press, a rape is committed every 22 minutes in India. There have been a number of high-profile rape cases this past year which have sparked international outcry and criticism against Indian authorities, who have been accused by many in the public of being complacent when it comes to violence against women.
The Asian Centre for Human Rights reported that there were 48,338 child rape cases recorded in India from 2001 to 2011, with the annual number of reported cases rising close to 336 percent over that period.
Commenting on the statistics of rape in India, Gospel for Asia President K. P. Yohannan called the crimes "a horrendous evil that is worsening" in a January 2013 statement.
"This just shows the wickedness of the human heart. I pray the government will take strong action to protect the innocent. We all grieve for what is happening. God have mercy on us," Yohannan said.