Lakhimpur: India family shattered by rape and murder of Dalit sisters (BBC)

Watch: The family is mourning the loss of their daughters

Days after two sisters were found hanging from a tree in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a post-mortem has reportedly confirmed that the girls were raped and murdered. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey reports from the girls’ village in Lakhimpur district where their families are trying to come to terms with their colossal loss.

Torrential rains have lashed the region since Wednesday night, muddying the narrow path to their home in Tamoli Purva village, just over 200km (124 miles) from the state capital Lucknow.

The gloom inside the two-room home perfectly mirrors the grey skies outside.

Here sits the Dalit (formerly known as untouchables) family of two sisters – 17 and 15 – whose lives were brutally cut short, when they were raped and strangled to death in a sugarcane field, not far away from their home.

Their mother, the only witness to her daughters’ kidnappings by three men who came on a motorbike on Wednesday afternoon, sits on a rope bed, surrounded by female relatives.

She is inconsolable.

“My daughters are gone. How will I live now?” she asks, tears rolling down her cheeks. “They lived here,” she says patting her heart.

A minute later, sorrow gives way to anger. “I want to see all those men hanged, just the way they hanged my daughters,” she says.

Six men have been arrested for the gang rape and murder of the girls. Police say one of them is a neighbour and the remaining five are Muslims from a nearby village – although it’s not believed to be a religious crime.

The murders have shone the spotlight again on the sexual violence faced by India’s 80 million Dalit women, a community that is at the bottom of India’s deeply discriminatory caste hierarchy.

In the past, authorities in several parts of the country have been accused of not acting fast enough in cases of crimes against Dalits.

This story was originally published in BBC.COM . Read the full story here

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