Two teenage girls have been found hanging from a tree in a northern Indian village after they were gang-raped by five men, police said Thursday.
A post-mortem report indicated that the cousins from the low-caste Dalit community, aged 14 and 15, hanged themselves late on Tuesday after the attack in a village in the Budaun district of Uttar Pradesh state.
"The report suggests ante-mortem hanging, which means the girls probably committed suicide. But we will take into account all aspects before coming to a conclusion," Atul Saxena, Budaun\’s police chief, told the AFP news agency.
Police have arrested three people, including two police officers, the AP news agency reported.
The two Dalit girls were found hanging from a tree on Wednesday night in their village after they went missing the night before, according to Saxena.
He said the arrests were made after villagers blocked the main highway near Katra village to protest against alleged police apathy and inaction. Senior Uttar Pradesh government officials ordered the arrests.
Saxena said that the head of Katra\’s police station had been suspended for not acting immediately when the girls\’ family complained they were missing.
Earlier this year a 20-year-old tribal woman was gang raped in eastern West Bengal state allegedly on orders of village elders who objected to her relationship with a man.
Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.