Indian police have clashed with hundreds of demonstrators protesting violence against women in the country after the recent gang rape and murder of two teenage girls.
The protesters took to the streets in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh State, on Monday to demand a crackdown on rape and other violence against women and girls.
Hundreds of police officers pushed and shoved the demonstrators before using water cannons to disperse them.
The furious protesters also called on the government in the northern state to end police indifference, which they said encourages assaults against women.
On May 28, the two teenage cousins from a low caste were found hanging from a tree after being gang-raped in a village in Uttar Pradesh. Police have been accused of ignoring a report by the victims’ families on May 27 that the girls had gone missing.
Five men have been arrested in connection with the deadly assault. Three of the detainees face preliminary murder and gang rape charges while two policemen face accusations of being criminal accessories, according to police.
The government in Uttar Pradesh, headed by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, has come under fire from rights groups and political opponents for failing to stop crimes against women.
Figures released about the number of rape assaults in India indicate that every 22 minutes, a rape is committed in the country that has a population of over 1.2 billion.
Last year, India made gang rape punishable by the death penalty even when the victim survives, after a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and savagely beaten on a moving bus and thrown out to a street in New Delhi in 2012.
The horrific nature of the crime shocked Indians and mass protests broke out across the country over the government’s failure to protect women against violence.