Sohan Lal reached the police outpost at 11 o’clock on the night his daughter disappeared, he said, already desperate for help. He bent down before the officer in charge and clutched his feet, telling him to hurry, hurry.
“I was on my knees begging them to come quickly, but they would not take us seriously,” Mr. Lal, 50, said. He said the policemen responded with “foul language” about his caste and his daughter.
Mr. Lal found his daughter, 12, close to dawn. She and her cousin, who was 14, had been raped, and their bodies were hanging by their scarves from a mango tree in this village about 200 miles from Delhi, the Indian capital.
Relatives insisted that the bodies hang there for 12 hours, preventing the police from bringing them down, because they wanted outsiders to see how the girls had been found.
The gruesome deaths have incited outrage in India and fury against the state government, which is led by a rival to the newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party.
A crowd of women, members of the B.J.P., marched on the office of the state’s chief minister on Monday, refusing to disperse until the authorities turned a water cannon on them. And a federal security official criticized the state authorities for not applying a rarely used act that levies severe punishments for acts of violence against Indians who are from the lowest castes.
“It was a clear case of atrocity on a weaker section of the society; we do not know why the state government has not slapped it on them,” Kiren Rijiju, the junior minister for internal security, was quoted as saying by The Press Trust of India.
Mr. Lal said that the girls were on their way to find a place to go to the toilet when they were forcibly led away by three brothers. The accused — Pappu Yadav, Awadhesh Yadav and Urvesh Yadav — come from the same caste as the three policemen whom Mr. Lal begged for help that night.
At one point, Mr. Lal said, the police brought the brothers to the station for an interrogation. One of them, after having been beaten, admitted to holding the girls captive, Mr. Lal said, but the other two were allowed to return to their village.
Mr. Lal said that villagers, who had gathered at the outpost, heard one police officer remark that “rapists get a rough treatment in jail, but murderers are thumped on their backs.”
Veere Yadav, the father of the three brothers, said that his sons were at home when the police came looking for them. “If they were guilty, then they would have run away,” he said.
In the village, the failure of the police to prevent the crime has stirred up hostilities between castes.
Both the victims and the suspects belong to the lower castes, but only members of the Yadav caste (the surname is the same as the caste) — who make up about 20 of the 400 households in the village — are assigned to the closest police outpost.
After the furor over the public hanging, Ram Vilas Yadav, the police official in charge of the outpost, was suspended. Two police officers, who are facing criminal charges, have been fired. Another was suspended.
Mr. Lal received a stream of politicians and journalists on the veranda of his brick house. He showed them passport-size photographs of the bodies suspended from the tree.
“The policeman in charge asked me to name my caste,” he said.
Among his visitors was Mayawati, leader of the main opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, who rose to power on the promise of empowering lower castes. She promised 500,000 rupees, about $8,500, to the families of the victims, and demanded that they be protected against retaliation.
“If anything happens to their family, then I will leave Delhi and Lucknow and sit here,” she said. “We will help you get justice.” Police personnel from nearby areas are guarding the victims’ families. The chief minister has also accepted their demand for the investigation to be conducted by an agency of the central government instead of by the state police.
Mr. Lal said he has refused a payout from the state government, demanding that it deliver justice by ensuring that the perpetrators are also hanged in public.
But Mr. Lal said he would accept Mayawati’s help. “She is genuine in her promise. We can trust her,” he said. “Otherwise, we cannot trade our dignity for some money.”
Kamal Kant Tiwari, head of the village, noted that this was the first such crime in the community. Members of the Yadav caste, he said, “are quite few in number, and everyone has lived peacefully till now.”
“Like everywhere else, there were fights in the village, but it was not based on caste,” he added.
Atul Saxena, a senior police official who is leading the investigation, described the failure of the police officers to help Mr. Lal as “gross negligence.”
“This is a horrible and isolated case,” he said.
In the face of threats, Mr. Yadav, father of the three accused men, said that he had left his home to live on the banks of the Ganges River, two and a half miles away. “With the boys gone, I’m too old to protect myself or my wife,” he said.
And while Mr. Lal’s grief has been public, his wife, Sridevi, 40, who covers her face with her sari, mourns more quietly. She said of her daughter: “She was very good at school, and she had a good handwriting. She was ambitious, too, and wanted to be doctor.”