India arrests 3rd suspect in gang rape of 2 teens
By Biswajeet Banerjee, AP
June 1, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
LUCKNOW, India -- Police arrested a third suspect Saturday in the gang rape and slaying of two teenage cousins found hanging from a tree in northern India, as a top state official said he was recommending a federal investigation into a case that has triggered national outrage.
The three suspects detained in the attack in Uttar Pradesh state are cousins in their 20s from an extended family, and they face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty, said police officer N. Malik. Two other suspects from the same village are also being sought, he said.
The father who reported the girls missing, Sohan Lal, has demanded a federal investigation.
“I don't expect justice from the state government as state police officers shielded the suspects,” said Lal, a poor farm laborer who refused to accept a payment for 500,000 rupees (US$8,500) offered by the state government as financial help. He told reporters Saturday that he would accept no financial assistance until the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's FBI, takes over the case.
Such government payments are common in India when poor families face high-profile calamities.
With pressure mounting on the state government to act swiftly, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said he was recommending to the federal government a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Rahul Gandhi, a leader of the opposition Congress party, visited the families of the two girls on Saturday and endorsed the demand for a federal investigation.
Uttar Pradesh officials initially appeared caught off guard by the reaction to the attack on the two girls, and Yadav on Friday mocked journalists for asking about it.
“You're not facing any danger, are you?” he said in Lucknow, the state capital. “Then why are you worried? What's it to you?”