Indian police: 3 sisters, aged 5-11, raped, killed

Protesters hold placards near Indian parliament Thursday to protest a new sexual violence law as the parliament convenes in New Delhi, India. Activists say the law is inadequate.

Protesters hold placards near Indian parliament Thursday to protest a new sexual violence law as the parliament convenes in New Delhi, India. Activists say the law is inadequate. Photo by The Associated Press.

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian police said Thursday that they have launched a manhunt for men suspected of raping and killing three sisters, aged 5 to 11, in the latest case of sexual violence to grip the country.

The sisters’ bodies were found in a village well in Bhandara district in Maharashtra state on Feb. 14 after they had gone missing from school, police officer Javed Ahmed said. The area is more than 600 miles south of New Delhi, the capital.

As the victims’ mother accused police of a shoddy investigation, enraged villagers forced shops to close, burned tires and blocked a national highway passing through the area for several hours on Wednesday, demanding justice.

“The police did not take the case seriously and did nothing for two days,” the CNN-IBN television news channel quoted the mother as saying. Her name was withheld.

One police officer has been suspended for not acting promptly, Indian Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, who represents Bhandara district in Parliament, told reporters in New Delhi.

“It is unacceptable. All of us have to hang our heads in shame,” Patel said.

Cabinet Minister Manish Tewari called the killings a “very, very heinous assault” and announced that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was sending $18,300 to the family. The central government has asked state investigators to keep them informed of the investigation.

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