Police in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh have held three men they say were involved in the brutal gang rape of a woman and her minor teenage daughter by robbers at gunpoint on Friday night, even as the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) government came under intense flak.
A total of 15 men had dragged the family -- travelling from Noida, a suburb of the Indian capital Delhi, to Shahjahanpur -- out of a car near here, tied up the men, and raped the mother and daughter.
Uttar Pradesh director general of police (DGP) Javeed Ahmed, who was rushed to Bulandshahr by state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav after the incident, identified the three detained as Naresh (25), Bablu (22) and Rais (28).
He said police had interrogated 15 people, all of them belonging to a nomadic tribe, last evening.
The three men held belonged to the Bawariya community and have been identified by the victims, he said, adding that all the culprits would be booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).
As the incident acquired a political hue, the chief minister went into fire-fighting mode and suspended the senior superintendent of police (SSP) Vaibhav Krishna, the superintendent of police (SP) Rammohan Singh, and the station house officer (SHO) Ramsen Singh, amid allegations of laxity by the police.
The DGP, accompanied by the principal secretary (home), visited the site of the incident on the directions of the chief minister.
The police chief however rubbished the charge that police had not acted swiftly, saying they reached the spot 20 minutes after they heard about the incident. And that the SSP had also got to the spot.
Taking cognisance of the case, the national commission for women (NCW) said it has sent a member to meet the victims and officials in Uttar Pradesh but it added that it gets little cooperation from the state administration in cases like these.
NCW chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam also questioned the detentions made by police, wondering whether the police had arrested the people actually involved in the gang rape.
The Opposition alleged that the "barbaric" incident showed that "goonda raj" (lawlessness) was at its peak in the state; the state will go to the polls early in 2017.
The ruling party at the centre, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), criticised the state government for laying down expressways and highways without caring for the safety and security of users, while the state opposition said heinous crimes like these pointed towards the deteriorating law and order situation and "jungle raj" (rule of the jungle) in the state.
"The SP government and its head must tell the people if they can return the modesty of women in such a painful and henious crime," the opposition Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said in a statement, adding comnon people, especially women, were not safe under the present dispensation.