NEW DELHI: The gang rapes of a mother and daughter in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district have snowballed into a political storm, as BSP supremo Mayawati took on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav over the brutal incident.

Demanding a “personal explanation” from Yadav, Mayawati said, “If you can't manage UP, then resign as chief minister on moral grounds.”

The gang rape has shaken the poll-bound state. On Friday, five men stopped a car travelling on the Ghaziabad-Aligarh highway, proceeding then to rob the family, tie up the men, and drag out a 35 year old woman and her 14 year old daughter. The men raped the woman and the teenage girl for over two hours, till police rescued them at about 5 30 AM.

The incident took place barely 100 meters from a police post in UP’s Bulandshahr -- just 65 kms from Delhi. The family were driving from Noida, where they are based, to their home town of Shahjahanpur.

Police registered a case of robbery, rape and wrongful confinement. “Fifteen suspects have been nabbed for interrogation...hope that the accused would be arrested soon,” Daljit Singh, additional director general ( law and order), said (as quoted in HT).

In addition to Mayawati, Sheila Dikshit -- the chief ministerial candidate of the Congress for next year’s election in UP -- also slammed the SP government and chief. "Keep aside what the UP chief minister Akhilesh has done, this incident is very sad, shameful and heinous because if the police cannot help in such cases it signals that the law and order situation in UP is in bad shape and the common people do not feel safe in the state," Dikshit said.

The National Commission of Women (NCW) also took on the Delhi Police over the incident, saying that the crucial (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) POCSO Act was missing from the FIR, which was a clear violation of the law.

Speaking to ANI, NCW chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam said the police's attitude towards the incident showed its apathy. "The whole case is dependent on the FIR. When a minor girl has been gang-raped, there should have been POCSO. From NCW, we are clear that this is police apathy and callousness. They are trying to cover up the matter," the NCW chief said, adding that 15 persons were neither arrested nor detained. Only 8 people were detained, Kumaramangalam said, adding “There is a huge difference between what they [the police] are saying in front of the media and what they are actually doing.” "May be due to elections next year, he (investigating officer Bhanwar Pal) is trying to cover up the issue,” the NCW Chief said.

Facing pressure, the Akhilesh Yadav government on Sunday suspended Bulandshahr senior superintendent of police Vaibhav Krishan for dereliction of duty. Six others, including SP (city) Rammohan Singh, circle officer (Sadar) Himanshu Gaurav and SHO Ramsen Singh of Kotwali Dehat, too were suspended.

Yadav’s response, however, is being touted as a “knee jerk” reaction -- with the assembly elections just months away. According to sources, Yadav gave an ultimatum to the entire top brass of the UP police, instructing them to solve the case within 24 hours. A senior police officer quoted in an article in First Post states, “This is the worst way of solving a crime which is not an ordinary open and shut case like fratricides.”

The incident received widespread attention and condemnation on Twitter.