NEW DELHI (AP) — Police used water cannons to disperse hundreds of women who were protesting on Monday against a rise in violence against women in the northern Indian state where two teenagers were gang-raped and later found hanging from a tree last week.

The protesters were demonstrating outside the office of the top elected official in Uttar Pradesh, demanding that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav crack down on increasing rape and other attacks on women and girls.

Hundreds of police officers, including female officers, pushed and shoved the sari-clad protesters before deploying water cannons to disperse them.

The protesters also demanded the government act to curb police laxity and indifference, which they said were encouraging attacks on women.

Police failed to take any action when the father of one of the girls had complained that the two cousins were missing. Two police officers were fired for dereliction of duty after the girls were found gang-raped and killed.

One of their fathers has said that police took more than 12 hours to respond to his complaint that the girls were missing. He said if the police had acted promptly, they could have been rescued.

Yadav has recommended a federal inquiry, but his government has come under widespread criticism for its lackadaisical approach toward women's safety.