Wave of crime against women continues in India's biggest state

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 12, 2014 9:37 AM

By Sharat Pradhan

LUCKNOW India (Reuters) - A woman was hanged from a tree in India's state of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday and another allegedly raped in a police station, police said, the latest in a wave of crime against women in the country's most populous region over the past two weeks.

"The sub-inspector accused of committing the rape of the woman has been put under arrest while we have launched a manhunt for the three constables accused of being party to the crime," a spokesman at state police headquarters said.

In total, five rapes were reported in 36 hours in the state.

In two cases, the victims were hanged to death. Police are investigating allegations of rape made by relatives.

Crime against women in India has come under renewed scrutiny since two girls, aged 12 and 14, were gang raped and hanged from a tree in Uttar Pradesh on May 27, the day after Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister.

Uttar Pradesh is one of the world's poorest regions and has largely missed out on the economic boom that swept much of India over the past decade. Its population of 208 million is larger than that of Russia, and it has endured a string of revolving door governments that have pandered to narrow caste interests.

Chief Minister Akilesh Yadav met businessmen in New Delhi on Thursday trying to drum up investment, saying accusations of lawlessness were exaggerated.

"In Uttar Pradesh, not only is the atmosphere good but law and order, compared with many other states, is also better," Yadav told reporters.

Yadav ran his 2012 election campaign on being a modernizer, advocating the use of technology to transform the state. Instead, his term in office has been marred by a spate of riots, gangsterism, and now, sex crimes.

His father, a former chief minister widely seen as the power behind the throne in the state, drew widespread condemnation earlier this year when he said rape laws should be softened and that "boys will be boys" - sometimes committing rape by mistake.

As in many parts of the world, conservative Indian leaders across the political spectrum frequently blame rape on the victims' dress and social behavior.

Modi broke his silence on the issue in a speech to parliament on Wednesday, saying India needed to protect and respect women and that the government needed to act.

He also asked politicians to refrain from making comments about why rape happened. A senior member of Modi's own party last week said rape was a social issue, and "sometimes right, sometimes wrong."

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Jeremy Laurence)