Family of the two Dalit sisters raped and murdered in UP's Lakhimpur Kheri district have sought "further investigation" and questioned the police's claim that the girls. 15 and 17, had been friends with the men who carried out the crime.
"The cops should give us more proof. In a village, families come to know who's friends with whom," the victims' brother said.
Of the six men arrested, one is from the girls' neigbourhood while the others are from a village nearby. Police have said the girls were "not forcibly taken or abducted" but had gone with three of them on motorbikes. "These men later forced themselves on them in a field, raping them. When the girls said they'd have to marry them, the men got angry and strangled them with their dupattas," said Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Suman earlier today. Two of their friends helped them hang the girls so that it looks like a suicide, according to the police.
The girls' mother had told the police that they were kidnapped three hours before they were found dead. "Three young men forcibly took them away on motorcycles," she had alleged.
Today, the girls' brother told NDTV, "Our mother identifies three of the men. But we don't know who the rest are. Police should be given us more information." He was one of the family members allowed to be present at the post-mortem examination.
The state's BJP government led by Yogi Adityanath, faced with stinging questions, has promised "such punishment that souls of the coming generations of the culprits will shiver". Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak said this while announcing that the trial will be held in a fast-track court.
But Opposition parties see the crime as a reflection of "how law and order has collapsed" in the BJP's rule. "Criminals are fearless because this government's priorities are wrong," said BSP leader Mayawati in a tweet.
Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav described this incident as a repeat of the Hathras case from 2020 in which a Dalit girl was raped and murdered. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and AAP MP Sanjay Singh have held the government responsible too.