Lucknow: With crimes against women in the national spotlight, the country's most populous state reported as many as 23 rapes in the first 10 days of the new year, with three victims burnt for spurning or resisting their male attackers.
Most incidents took place in western and central parts of Uttar Pradesh and as many as 70 percent rapes were reported from villages and small towns, according to official statistics.
Director General of Police A.C. Sharma is pitching for more stringent laws for crimes against women. "Even one reported rape or assault on women is a shame," Sharma told IANS.
A 16-year-old girl was set on fire when she foiled a rape attempt in Shankargarh in Allahabad district. She suffered more than 70 percent burns and is still battling for life.
The victim told police that she tried her best to save herself from her neighbour and attacker, 20-year-old Gyan Patel.
She accused his parents of helping him in the attack. Police officials who spoke to IANS admitted they were horrified to hear the story.
"Incidents of rape are shameful, but cases of victims being stabbed and burnt alive are indeed very shocking," Deputy Inspector General of Police Navneet Sikera told IANS.
He said that in the thousands of complaints reaching the women's helpline from across the sprawling state, many complained of being threatened by boys and men.
A 17-year-old girl was set on fire by a jilted lover in Hathras on the last day of 2012. Police got the complaint Jan 1. After four days, she succumbed to her burns.
Police said she was attacked inside her house when the assailant, Arjun, barged in and doused her with kerosene. He then set her on fire before the family could come to her rescue.
The distraught father of the deceased told police that his daughter had spurned the overtures of the killer who had been stalking her. The man has been arrested.
In Farukkhabad district, a 14-year-old girl was set on fire by a young man, Shrawan Jatav, after he failed to rape her. She suffered 70 percent burns.
Superintendent of Police Nilabjo Chowdhary told IANS that the girl's condition was critical and that the assailant and his family members were absconding.
In another similar incident, a 19-year-old suffered multiple stab wounds after she resisted a thug's attempt to rape her.
Fatehpur Superintendent of Police Rajendra Singh said the incident took place in Karera village when the victim was going to the fields.
When she raised an alarm, the man, Vijay, stabbed her many times and escaped after firing gunshots in the air. She is out of danger, and police are looking for Vijay.
An official attributed the rise in such violence to demands to send rapists to the gallows.
"With the fear of being identified, the rapists are now trying to do away with evidence by trying to kill the victim," the officer said.
In the last nine months since the Samajwadi Party came to power, a total of 1,497 rape cases have been reported in Uttar Pradesh.
Police spokesman Rakesh Singh says incidences of rape have fallen compared to last year. He added that police were doing their best to nail people with records of crime against women and sexual assault.