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India must protect its women - Modi

World

New Delhi - Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that India should respect and protect its women, in his first comments on the issue since the rape and hanging of two young girls two weeks ago.

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Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and India's next prime minister Narendra Modi greets the gathering at the home of his 90-year-old mother in Gandhinagar, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Friday, May 16, 2014. The top official in Gujarat state for over a decade, Modi often contrasted his humble roots with the posh background of his main rival, 43-year-old Rahul Gandhi, heir to India's most powerful political dynasty. As the career politician led his party through a dazzling, high-tech election campaign, Modi called voters' attention to his mother riding a three-wheeled auto-rickshaw to cast her ballot earlier this month. "I am the chief minister of a prosperous state ... And my 90-year-old mother goes to vote in an auto-rickshaw," the white-bearded Modi boasted, punching a fist through the air as he claimed his place by India's poor masses. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

The double killing in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh was the most shocking in a series of crimes that has highlighted a breakdown of law and order, and triggered criticism of the region's political leadership.

Relatives refused to allow the bodies of the girls, aged 12 and 14, to be cut down from a village mango tree until police took up the case. Three suspects have been arrested and two policemen held on suspicion of attempting to cover up the crime.

"Respecting and protecting women should be priority of the 1.25 billion people in this country," the 63-year-old Modi said in his first speech to parliament since winning a landslide general election victory last month.

"All these incidents should make us introspect. The government will have to act. The country won't wait and people won't forget," Modi told lawmakers, urging politicians not to speculate publicly on why rapes are committed.

On Wednesday another woman was found hanged from a tree near the Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh. Police have opened a murder investigation and await the findings of a post mortem to determine whether the 45-year-old victim was raped before her death, local police chief Happy Guptan said. - Reuters

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