The Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday claimed to have made a breakthrough in the highway gang-rape case. The police said they have arrested three members of the notorious Bawaria gang, who raped a 14-year-old girl and her mother while holding the other members of the family hostage at gunpoint on Friday night.

Two police officers, including the SHO of the local station, were suspended in connection with the incident.  State police chief Javeed Ahmed said that five people, all members of a nomadic tribe, had been taken into custody. “The victims have identified three of them. They are the members of the Bawaria gang,” Ahmed told reporters in Bulandshahar district, about 500 kilometres from here.

He said that two of the suspects, identified as Naresh alias Thakur and Bablu, hailed from Punjab and Haryana, respectively, while the third, Rahees, was a resident of Bulandshahar.

''We have crucial leads on which we are working. The other culprits will be nabbed soon,” he said. Ahmed also said that the police would try to ensure that the trial of the case would take place in a fast track court. The incident occurred near Dostpur village in Bulandshahar on the Delhi-Kanpur highway when the families of two brothers, both residents of Noida, were travelling to Shahjahanpur.

According to Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Daljit Chaudhary, the bandits, whose numbers are yet to be ascertained, threw an object at the vehicle, forcing the driver to stop. They then overpowered the occupants of the car and dragged them into a nearby muddy sugarcane field, where they tied the three men and gang-raped the minor girl and her 35-year old mother. The culprits also looted their valuables before fleeing from the spot, police said. The horror, according to the victims, continued for over two hours. They informed the police around dawn on Saturday.

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