|Cousins Murti and Pushpa were found hanging from a mango tree in the
village of Katra in northern Uttar Pradesh after going missing in May this year
By STEPH COCKROFT FOR MAILONLINE
25 August 2014
Five men held on suspicion of raping and murdering two teenage girls who were found hanging from a mango tree in India will not be charged with any offences, investigators said today.
Young cousins, Murti and Pushpa, aged 14 and 15, were found dead in the village of Katra in northern Uttar Pradesh state in May this year.
Their killings provoked national outrage after it emerged that police in the village initially refused to investigate due to the girls’ low-caste status.
Three brothers, Pappu, Awadhesh and Urvesh – who are members of the dominant Yadav caste, to which most of the local police belong – were quickly arrested and later admitted attacking and killing the young girls.
But now the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s top investigative agency, has said it would not ‘as yet’ file charges against the men.
After they were found, the girls were reported to have been gang-raped and murdered after going into the fields to relieve themselves.
They had gone to the fields because their homes, like most in their village in Badaun district, did not have toilets, their families said.
|Vigil: Several activists lit a candles on the Delhi pavement as
part of memorial protests
A local post-mortem examination also confirmed multiple sexual assaults and death due to hanging.
But when the case was handed over to the CBI, a forensic investigation into clothing and swabs concluded the girls were not sexually assaulted.
India’s Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) reported that it found no proof of sexual assault on the girls’ clothes.
Even before the CDFD report surfaced, regional police had cast doubt on whether the girls had been sexually assaulted.
The head of police in the UP state instead suggested they could have been victims of so-called ‘honour’ killings.
Anand Lal Bannerjee claimed only one of the cousins had been raped and they had in fact been strangled before their bodies were strung up on the tree.