Police used water cannons to push back hundreds of BJP women activists who tried to march to the office of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow today in protest against the gangrape and murder of two teenage cousin sisters.
The Union Home Ministry, meanwhile, shot off a letter to the UP government asking it to explain why the stringent clauses of Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act were not slapped on those accused of raping and murdering of the two dalit girls in Badaun.
The new Union Women and Child development Minister Maneka Gandhi called the incident "extremely serious" and said the accused should not be allowed to go scotfreee.
As the incident touched off an outrage, LJP leader and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan joined the politicians who made a beeline to the Katra village to meet the family of the victims.
In Lucknow, the BJP women activists began their march from the party office in front of Vidhan Bhawan towards the CM's office at Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan in protest against the rising incidents of atrocities against women in the state against the backdrop of the Badaun episode.
The protesters, led by party state unit president Laxmi Kant Bajpai, were, however, stopped by police before they could reach CM's office.
A scuffle between police and the BJP Mohila Morcha activists broke out when the latter tried to force their way towards the CM's office. Police had to use water cannons to disperse the protesters.
The BJP activists then sat on a dharna. They also alleged that police manhandled their workers in which many of them sustained injuries.
Later, a 12-member delegation, including women wing's state president Kamlawati Singh and six women MPs, met the principal secretary home for talks.
"The law is there. It is to protect the SCs and STs from atrocities. It was a clear case of atrocity on a weaker section of the society. We do not know why the state government has not slapped it (clauses) against the accused," Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told reporters in New Delhi.
He said the letter to the UP government was sent today.
"It was a heinous crime and the guilty must be given exemplary punishment," he said.
Yadav met Governor B L Joshi and he is believed to have apprised him of the action taken by his government.
The father of one of the girls sought security from the Centre for his family in the wake of the spotlight on the case, saying he does not have faith in the state government.
Five accused-- three brothers Pappu Yadav, Awadhesh Yadav and Urvesh Yadav and constables Chhatrapal Yadav and Sarvesh Yadav ---have been arrested in the case.
The bodies of the two girls--aged 14 and 15 years--were found hanging from a mango tree in a village in Ushait area in Badaun. They went missing on May 27 and their bodies were found the next day.