1. ITV Report

Police 'could have saved' gang-raped and hanged girls

Sohan Lal, a 45-year-old farm worker from Katra in Uttar Pradesh, whose daughter and niece was gang-raped and killed Photo: ITV News

The father of one of the girls gang-raped in northern India told ITV News they would be alive had the police looked for them when they were reported missing by the family.

Sohal Lal said the girls - aged 12 and 14 - were abducted at night by a gang armed with guns who threatened a cousin as he tried to intervene and save them.

The 45-year-old agricultural labourer said the family went to the police as soon as the cousin, who went looking for them in the immediate moments after they disappeared, realised the girls had been abducted.

Video report by Senior International Correspondent John Irvine.

The family say they went to the police and named one of the accused. They appealed to the police to search the home of one of the men, but the police "took the side of the culprits" and refused.

He said the family were "abused" by the police, who did not take their concerns seriously, whilst the girls were still alive.

Mr Lal said the police officers came from the same ancient Indian caste system as the accused, in contrast to his daughter and niece, who were members of a "lower" class.

He said the police refused to look for the girls on this basis, and their inaction killed his daughter.

Sohan Lal, a 45-year-old farm worker from Katra in Uttar Pradesh, whose daughter and niece was gang-raped and killed. Credit: ITV News

The next morning, the girls were found dead, hanging from a mango tree in the field they had gone to to use the toilet in, as they did not have one at home.

The bodies of the girls hung swaying off the tree yesterday, as the family and supporters protested against the police. Credit: APTN

The family and supporters surrounded the tree the girls' bodies hung from in an angry silent protest and did not allow them to be cut down until police arrested the men the cousin had said he had seen take the girls by force.

My daughter could have been saved had the police acted on time but they completely failed us and I have no faith in this system.

– Mr Lal

As well as not acting in time to save his 12-year-old daughter and her cousin, Mr Lal said police have been protecting the accused, by refusing to arrest them, and "defending" them.

Look at this, the accused have got all the police protection and here I am, the victim, and have been left in the lurch. Is this justice?

They killed our daughters and are also defending the accused.

– Mr Lal

The family eventually let the bodies of the children be cut down last night, after police arrested two suspects and two police officers.