11/27/2014, 00.00
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Federal agency says two girls in Dalit rape case not murdered

For the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the two teenagers found hanging in their village "committed suicide." The federal agency also said it found no conclusive evidence that the two teenagers were gang raped. All five defendants, including two policemen, have been released. For civil society groups, the case is a "cover up".

Lucknow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The investigation by India's federal police, the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI, into the death of two girls, aged 14 and 15, found hanging in an Uttar Pradesh village in May, said there was insufficient evidence to show that they were gang raped and murdered.

The case sparked uproar and protests across India and around the world because of the brutality of the attack. According to the initial autopsy, the two girls had been gang raped, strangled to death, and then left to hang from a mango tree where they were found in the morning of 28 May.

Uttar Pradesh police arrested five people in connection with the two deaths: two brothers, Pappu and Awadesh Yadav (who were seen with one of the victim by her father), two constables, Sarvesh Yadav and Chhatrapal Yadav, and a fifth man, Awadesh Yadav.

The surname Yadav indicates a lower caste origin, but one that is higher than Dalits, once known as "untouchables".

Given the visibility of the case, the CBI took over the investigation in June. However, the federal agency reached a totally different conclusion, claiming that the two teenagers left home of their own accord and committed suicide. New forensic tests found no conclusive evidence of rape.

Back in September, a local court granted bail to the five defendants. Now the federal agency has decided against charging them.

Civil society groups have criticised the CBI for its investigation and challenged its findings given the discrepancy with the results of the first investigation.

For some, the federal agency is trying to cover up the incident. Others wonder whether, its conclusions would have been the same had the victims not been Dalit.

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