Members of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union shout slogans during a protest against a gang rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 30, 2014. A top government official said the northern Uttar Pradesh state has sacked two police officers who failed to respond to a complaint by the father of the two teenage girls who went missing and were later found gang raped and killed. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
LUCKNOW, India (AP) -- Facing relentless media attention and growing criticism for a series of rapes, state officials in north India fired two police officers Friday for failing to investigate the disappearance of two teenage cousins, who were gang-raped and later found hanging from a tree.
But in a country with a long history of tolerance for sexual violence, the firings also came as the state's top official mocked journalists for asking about the attack.
"Aren't you safe? You're not facing any danger, are you?" Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said in Lucknow, the state capital. "Then why are you worried? What's it to you?"
The gang rape, with video of the girls' corpses hanging from a mango tree and swaying gently in a breeze, was the top story Friday on India's relentless 24-hour news stations. But in just the past few days, Uttar Pradesh has also seen the mother of a rape victim brutally attacked and a 17-year-old girl gang-raped by four men.
Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state, with nearly 200 million people.
Official statistics say about 25,000 rapes are committed every year in India, a nation of 1.2 billion people. But activists say that number is very low, since women are often pressed by family or police to stay quiet about sexual assaults