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Outrage erupted on Friday over a spate of sex crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh where a third gang-rape of a teenage girl was reported overnight, prompting Union home minister Rajnath Singh to seek a report from the state government.
Police said a Dalit teenage girl was gang-raped in Azamgarh, the constituency of Mulayam Singh Yadav, on Thursday night, close on the heels of the gang-rape of two teenage cousins who were found hanging from a tree on Wednesday in village Katra of Badaun district, about 300km from Lucknow.
Under pressure to act, the UP government said on Friday it had sacked two constables for failing to investigate the disappearance of the cousins. Of the seven wanted in the case, the three who have been arrested so far include Sarvesh and brothers Pappu Yadav and Awadhesh Yadav.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has also ordered that suspects in the attack on the cousins, who were 14 and 15, be tried in special "fast track" courts. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is expected to visit Badaun on Saturday to meet the family members of the girls.
Four other suspects — Urvesh Yadav (brother of Pappu and Awadhesh), constable Chhatrapal and two unidentified persons — are at large, said superintendent of police AK Saxena.
In a separate incident, police said they had arrested three men for attacking the mother of a rape victim after she refused to withdraw her complaint. The attack, in Etawah, followed the May 11 rape of the woman's teenage daughter.
On Friday, a video of the two cousin teenagers' corpses hanging from a mango tree and swaying gently in a breeze drew relentless media attention and criticism in India and abroad, virtually reprising the global condemnation the country faced following the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi in December, 2012.
Cousins found hanging from tree, rape suspected
But in signs that India remains a country tolerant to sexual violence, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav mocked journalists for asking about the attack.
"Aren't you safe? You're not facing any danger, are you?" Yadav said in Lucknow. "Then why are you worried? What's it to you?"
His Father, Mulayam, had provoked outrage during the election campaign by saying about the death penalty for some rape cases: "Boys commit mistakes. Will they be hanged for rape?"
Watch video: Working hard to nab culprits, say police on UP cousins rape
Reacting to the latest cases of rapes, Mayawati slammed the government, saying the incidents were evidence of the "jungle raj" that ran the state and failed to impose law and order.
Meanwhile, Maneka Gandhi, the child welfare minister, said every policeman who had been involved in the case should be dismissed.
"Police is still not acting in the right direction. All policemen involved in the incident should be terminated," she told the PTI, lashing out at what she termed "police laxity".
Gandhi said that she planned to set up a "rape crisis cell" to ensure swift justice for victims of sex crime.