Police in India used water cannons to disperse hundreds of women who were protesting the rape and murder of two teenage sisters in Uttar Pradesh’s Budaun last week.
The protesters were marching towards the office of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Several people have reportedly been injured in the protest.
Kusum Rai, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which organized the protest, said that the police were behaving like “goons”. She said that the women of the BJP will continue to fight for women’s right to be provided with adequate protection from the state.
Laxmikant Bajpayi, the BJP’s State Unit President, also condemned the use of force to disperse the protesters, saying that criminals were being protected by the Samajwadi Party government in the northern state.
“We, along with our alliance partner, have won 73 of the 80 seats in the Lok Sabha polls and we cannot be mute spectators while criminals rape and murder women. This government will have to ensure the safety of women and every citizen in the state,” Bajpayi stated.
The two girls murdered last week – who were members of the Dalit community previously called “untouchables” – were gang-raped and strangled before being hanged. There were no comments from law enforcement officials when asked if this was a hate crime towards the Dalit community, who are considered to be on the lowest rung in the traditional Indian caste system.
Sexual harassment and violence against women has become widespread in India, while being excused by certain groups who are against the execution of gang rapists. The head of Uttar Pradesh state’s governing Samajwadi Party told an election rally that the party was against the execution of gang rapists.
“Boys will be boys, they make mistakes,” said party member Mulayam Singh Yadav.