Abducted, gang-raped and found hanging from a tree…
That was the terrible fate of two teenage girls who have become the latest victims of violence against women in India.
Villagers in northern Uttar Pradesh state claim the police failed to properly investigate the disappearance of the pair, said to be sisters or cousins aged 14 to 16.
At least one officer has been accused of involvement with the crime or of helping to cover it up. Several suspects have been arrested.
“Whatever happened, it was very wrong. It is a very serious issue,” said local police officer Maan Singh Chauhan.
“We are fully prepared and we are with the victims’ family. The culprits will be dealt with severely.”
The girls are said to have belonged to the Dalit community – formerly known as ‘untouchables’ – considered to be the lowest caste in India’s traditional system.
They reportedly went missing from fields which they had entered because they had no toilet at home.
Women’s safety in India has been under the spotlight since the gang-rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012.
That triggered nationwide protests and the introduction of tougher sexual assault laws.
Yet a series of high-profile attacks since then has raised concerns that little has changed.