Three men, including two police officers, have been arrested in northern India in connection with a horrific new instance of sexual violence: They're suspected of gang-raping and killing two teenage cousins before hanging the girls from a mango tree. Villagers found the bodies yesterday morning, hours after the two disappeared from fields near their home in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh state, the police superintendent says. The 14- and 15-year-old girls had gone into the fields because there was no toilet in their home. The family belongs to the Dalit community, also called "untouchables" and considered the lowest rung in India's age-old caste system.
Hundreds of angry villagers spent the rest of yesterday in silent protest over alleged police inaction in the case. Indian TV channels showed video of the villagers sitting under the girls' bodies as they swung in the wind, preventing authorities from taking them down from the tree until the suspects were arrested. The villagers accused the chief of the local police station of ignoring a complaint by the girls' father Tuesday night that the girls were missing. The station chief has since been suspended. Police arrested the three men later in the day yesterday and were searching for four more suspects.