There were massive protests by angry locals and Congress workers at a village in Unnao as two ministers from the Yogi Adityanath government arrived this evening to visit the family of a 23-year-old woman, who died last night after being set on fire by the men accused of raping her.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had instructed two ministers - Kamal Rani Varun and Swami Prasad Maurya - to visit Unnao, 65 km from state capital Lucknow, as outrage over the rape and murder grew. Earlier today, in a statement, the chief minister said he was "extremely saddened to hear of the woman's death" and that the case will be heard in a fast-track court. He also assured the "strictest of punishment for the culprits".
"Why now?" shouted protesters as the vehicles of the ministers slowly drove into the village; the policemen keeping the angry villagers away from the cars.
Mr Maurya, after visiting the victim's family, said no culprit will be spared. "Whatever investigation the victim's family wants, we will do it. The names that have been taken by the victim, action will be taken against them. No culprit will be spared. It is not a subject of politics," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Yogi Adityanath government has been slammed by opposition leaders including Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati.
Priyanka Gandhi visited the victim's family earlier today in Unnao and said she thinks "there is no place for women here".
"Chief Minister is saying there is no place for criminals in the state but what he has turned the state into, I think there is no place for women here," she was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Priyanka Gandhi also alleged that she heard the attackers have a BJP connection. "Victim's whole family has been constantly harassed since last year. I have heard that the culprits have some BJP connection. That is why they were being shielded. There is no fear among criminals in the state," she claimed.
Akhilesh Yadav sat on a protest outside the state assembly in Lucknow this morning, demanding the resignation of Yogi Adityanath. "The chief minister had said in this very assembly, 'apradhiyon ko thok diya jayega' (convicts will be shot), they could not save the life of a daughter," Mr Yadav said.
Mayawati alleged "not a single day goes by without a case of crime against women in Uttar Pradesh."
The woman had suffered 90 per cent burn injuries after five men, including the two men alleged of raping her, attacked her on Thursday morning while she was on her way for a court hearing in the rape case. She died of a cardiac arrest at Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital late last night, where she had been airlifted a day earlier. The main accused in the case had just been released on bail a week earlier.