Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday claimed to have held three of the suspects involved in the brutal gang-rape of a woman and her teenage daughter at gunpoint on Friday night after dragging the family out of a car near Bulandshahr, even as the Samajwadi Party government came under intense flak over the incident.
UP DGP Javeed Ahmed, who was rushed to Bulandshahr by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav after the incident at village Dostpur in Bulandshahr on Delhi-Kanpur highway came into limelight, identified the three detained as Naresh (25), Bablu (22) and Rais (28).
He said police had taken into custody 15 persons, all of them belonging to a nomadic tribe, last evening and interrogated them.
Three of the those held who belonged to Bawariya gang have been identified by the victims and all the culprits would be booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA), he said.
As the incident, which occurred near bypass when the family from Noida was travelling to Shahjahanpur on NH-91, acquired a political hue, the chief minister went into a fire-fighting mode and suspended SSP Bulandshahr Vaibhav Kishan, SP city Rammohan Singh , Circle Officer (Sadar) Himanshu Gaurav and SHO Ramsen Singh of Kotwali Dehat, amid allegations of laxity by police.
The DGP accompanied by Principal Secretary (Home) visited the site of the incident on the direction of the CM.
The police chief, however, rubbished the charge that police did not act swiftly, saying they reached the spot within 20 minutes of getting information and SSP Vibhav Krishna also arrived there.
Taking cognisance of the case, the National Commission for Women said it has sent a member to meet the victims and officials in Uttar Pradesh but added that it finds little cooperation from the state administration in such cases.
NCW chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam also questioned the genuineness of the detentions made by police in the case.
Opposition parties alleged that the "barbaric" incident showed that "goonda raj" was at its peak in the state where Assembly elections were due in early 2017.
BJP criticised the state government for laying expressways and highways without caring for the safety and security of the users, while BSP said such heinous crimes indicated towards deteriorating law and order situation and 'jungle raj' in the state.
"The SP government and its head must tell the people if they can return the modesty of women in such a painful and henious crime," BSP Chief Mayawati said in a statement, adding common people, especially women, were not safe in present SP regime.
Hitting out at the Akhilesh Yadav government, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma said, "When will this end? It shows that the state government has collapsed on every front. They cannot save the honour of a daughter. It is shameful and they should step down".
Describing the incident as "chilling", "barbaric" and one that has "shocked human conscience", Congress said the state government must take decisive action in the matter.
"The gang-rape incident in heart-rending, it's shocking. It has shocked human conscience. The way in presence of male members of family, a mother and daughter are traumatised and raped... it's a chilling story of how barbaric human beings can become," Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said.
"Please, for heaven's sake, take decisive action and punish the perpetrators of the ghastly crime at the earliest," he said.
BJP MP from Bulandshahr Bhola Singh said, "It is a sad, painful incident. Those guilty should be held at the earliest and punished.
"When a woman accompanied by her family is not safe, how would those alone be safe? Under the Samajwadi Party rule, even the streets are not safe let along the highways. In villages, girls and women cannot go out of homes... it's 'goonda raj'."
A group of bandits had waylaid the family, dragged the women, including the 13-year-old girl, to a nearby field and raped them while the men were tied with ropes. They were also looted of their cash, jewellery and mobile phones, he said.
One of the family members, who managed to untie the rope, reported the matter to police, Krishna said.