Two sisters from the Dalit community – also known as the untouchable for belonging to the lowest rung of the Hindu caste system – were raped, strangled and then hung from a tree in northern
to make it look like a suicide, reported the Police, who announced the arrest of the six defendants.
The minors were found hanging from a trunk in the district of Lakhimpur Kheri, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. In a video widely disseminated on social networks, the two young women are seen hanging by the neck with a dupatta red or scarf, together, dressed in the traditional Indian kurta.
The Police Superintendent of Lakhimpur Kheri, Sanjiv Suman, explained in a well-attended press conference that a friend of the girls introduced them to three other boys who, after taking them to the field on their motorbikes,
“They were first forced to have sex against their will“said the agent, and then the sisters told them that now they would have to marry them -by corrupting their honor-, sparking an argument that led to the murder, he noted.
“The boys killed them by strangling them with a dupatta. Then they called two other boys and (…) they hung them from a tree“, said.
The autopsy confirmed that the sisters were raped and strangled.
The discovery of the bodies hanging from a tree triggered strong protests in the area, where relatives, neighbors and relatives demanded justice from the Police and the immediate arrest of the guilty.
Superintendent Suman revealed that one of those charged with the crime had to be shot in the leg as he tried to flee.
“All we want is the death penalty for the accused, that’s all,” the brother of the victims told the Indian news agency ANI.
Shows of indignation did not take long to follow, many of them among activists and politicians representing the Dalit community, such as Chandra Shekhar Aazad, who blamed the police for not providing security to women, or the former head of regional government Mayawati, who criticized to the new government leadership.
“Criminals in Uttar Pradesh are not afraid because the government’s priorities are wrong,” Mayawati stressed.
Indian authorities have avoided identifying those accused of killing the sisters as members of a particular caste or religion, thus avoiding possible community clashes.
ten rapes a day
This case has reminded many of what happened in 2014 in Badaun, also in Uttar Pradesh, when two Dalit cousins were found hanging from a tree. Upper caste neighbors were accused of gang raping them, murdering them and then hanging them to make it look like suicide. A highly criticized investigation denied this.
the millennial The Hindu caste system divides society by birth into four large groups, in order of purity: Brahmins (priests), Shatriyas (warriors), Vaisyas (traders) and Sudras (servants), which in turn are subdivided into hundreds of subcastes.
At the bottom of that system are the untouchables, considered impure who carry out the most arduous work, such as the manual collection of feces.. According to the 2011 census, there are about 200 million Dalits in India, 16.6% of the population.
In a rural India dominated by the Hindu caste system, where the highest in the echelon forcefully maintain their position of power, the rape of Dalit women persists as one of the modes of control and supremacy.
In 2021 alone, 3,889 rapes of untouchables were recorded in India, which represents a dozen sexual abuses daily, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
However, organizations such as the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDN) warn that these numbers only show the tip of the iceberg, since many times pressure from higher castes or from the Police itself prevents the victim from reporting the violation