Six men were arrested Thursday in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly raping and killing two teenage girls whose bodies were found hanging from a tree a day earlier.
The 15- and 17-year-old girls belonged to the Dalit community, the lowest rung of India's rigid caste hierarchy, and were found hanging from a tree in a sugarcane field near their house in Lakhimpur Kheri district, police said.
Dalits — formerly known as "untouchables" — are victims of thousands of attacks each year.
According to an initial investigation, the sisters reportedly left their home on Wednesday and met with two of the arrested men with whom they may have had a relationship, police superintendent Sanjiv Suman said.
The two men confessed to strangling the sisters after raping them, and then called two others to help get rid of the bodies, he said. They later hung the bodies from a tree in an attempt to pass their deaths off as suicides, Suman said. Two other men were also arrested in connection with the incident, but police did not say what they are suspected of doing.