Police in the Indian state of West Bengal are investigating the alleged rape and murder of a teenage girl who had previously been humiliated by a village council.
The 15-year-old had protested with village elders who were set to beat her father for failing to repay a loan he had taken to buy a tractor. The village elders instead turned on her, forcing her to spit on the ground and lick it up.
Soon after the incident, the teenager went missing. Reports said the body of the girl was discovered on Tuesday morning near to a railway track in the state’s Jalpaiguri district.
“At 8.15 am I saw a dead body. I have not seen anything this like before,” Ganesh Prasad, who spotted the body, told the NDTV news channel. “If bodies come under a train, they are in pieces but with clothes on. In this case, only the shoulder was covered by a cloth.”
The relatives of the girl have filed a complaint with police naming a total of 13 people, said to be members of the kangaroo court. Police have detained three people for questioning.
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Reports say the villagers have denied the family’s claim that she was murder and said she took her own life.
Across swathes of rural India, such unelected village councils can wield great power. In January, a village headman in the West Bengal town of Sur, located six hours north of Kolkata, allegedly ordered the gang-rape of a young woman as a punishment for having a relationship with a man from a different community.