Indian police on Saturday arrested 14 people suspected of kidnapping, raping and burning to death a teenage girl, the latest in rising crimes against women in India despite toughening of laws.
District Magistrate Jitendera Singh said the accused abducted the girl from Chatra, a village in eastern Jharkhand state, while she was attending a wedding ceremony on Thursday. Some of them allegedly raped her before letting her go home.
The family complained to the local village council, which on Friday ordered the accused to do 100 sit-ups and pay a fine of $750.
Village councils of local elders often settle disputes, bypassing India’s lengthy and expensive judicial system. Although they carry no legal weight, they exert massive influence over rural life.
Police said the punishment enraged the men, who beat the girl’s parents before setting her on fire.
“The two accused thrashed the parents and rushed to the house where they set the girl ablaze with the help of their accomplices,” Ashok Ram, the officer in charge of the local police station, told AFP.
“The accused men are absconding. A special investigation team has been set up, which is looking into the case.”
The incident comes as India reels under a string of violent sexual crimes despite tightening of laws.
On Friday, a 55-year-old man allegedly committed suicide after being accused of raping a nine-year-old in southern Andhra Pradesh state, the Press
Trust of India reported.
Protests have been held across the country since horrific details emerged last month about an eight year-old girl being gang-raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir.
Some 40 000 rape cases were reported in 2016, with many more believed to go unreported because of stigma attached to sex crimes in deeply patriarchal India.