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Indian Investigators Deny Village Girls Were Raped, Murdered

Women gather in the courtyard at the home of the two young victims' family in the village of Katra Sahadatganj in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. India's largest state is under pressure to address atrocities against women. (NPR)

Two teenagers who were found hanging from a tree outside a village in northern India in May in an apparent rape-and-murder may have taken their own lives, Indian officials now say.

The two girls, in their early teens, were first reported to be sisters and later cousins. They had reportedly gone into a field to relieve themselves but never returned. Several people were arrested in connection with what villagers said was the gang rape of the two girls, who belonged to the Dalit caste, the lowest rung in India's ancient system of societal hierarchy.

NPR's Julie McCarthy has written extensively on the case.

But the BBC reports that after months of investigation, India's Central Bureau of Investigation, similar to the FBI, now says there is no evidence of sexual assault and that the girls took their own lives.

According to the BBC:

"Women's rights activists say they are not happy with the latest findings and are urging the CBI to continue investigating.

"The fact that there has been little explanation about the motive has led many people to question the findings of the CBI.

"'CBI has tried to fudge the case and save the accused from the very beginning,' Sohan Lal, father of one of the girls, told BBC Hindi.

"'I am very angry with their decision. The team did not show any promptness while investigating the case.'"

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