By Candace Kellner
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have been looking into the suspicious deaths of two teenage girls that were hanging from a tree. Police had initially suspected that the two cousins, aged 14 and 16, were raped and murdered. However, a government investigation has concluded that they took their own lives.
CNN reported that the CBI did not know the motives behind the suicides, but suggested that one of the girls had been in great distress after her family pressured her about a relationship with a man from another caste.
“Her family didn’t approve of this, and she was under pressure,” a top-level official, who declined to give their name, told CNN. “Being an immature girl living in a very conservative part of India, it must have been hard for her.”
The families of the victims were outraged by the CBI report. Virender Siakia, the brother of one of the victims, told CNN that the report was “completely wrong” and said the families would continue to seek justice for their beloved girls.
Siakia also told CNN that he believes the CBI report was politically motivated.
“How can they climb 12 feet up a tree without a chair or ladder to help them?” he told CNN. “This is all about caste, we think the CBI is under political pressure.”
According to CNN, the initial autopsy report confirmed that the two girls had been raped and strangled. As a result, the girls’ families filed a complaint against a group of suspected men, accusing them of rape and murder. However, federal investigators commissioned forensic reports later into the investigation that said the girls were not raped, and they dropped the charges against the five accused men.
When questioned about the discrepancy between the initial autopsy and conflicting forensic reports, a top-level CBI official said that the investigators involved in the first autopsy were not experts and had made an incorrect deduction about the cause of death.
The cousins’ death is not the first case of gang brutality toward women in India. In December 2012, a girl was gang raped on a public bus in New Delhi. That incident sparked an outcry among women and activists who urged the government to ensure the safety of girls and women throughout India.
Mayawati Kumari, a well-known female politician from the state where the girls lived, is skeptical about the CBI report’s accuracy, and she announced that she believes the investigation was conducted “in haste.”