West Bengal gang-rape: Young woman 'attacked on bamboo platform in front of entire village'

Now India’s highest court has ordered a judicial inquiry

Delhi

India’s highest court has ordered a judicial inquiry into the reported gang-rape of a tribal woman as claims emerged that the 20-year-old had been assaulted on a raised platform in front of her entire village.

The woman remains in a serious condition in hospital after a village council apparently ordered her to be gang-raped as a “punishment” for having a relationship with a Muslim man, who was not part of the community. Police have arrested more than a dozen men, including the headman of the village.

On Friday, India’s Supreme Court ordered a judge to visit the site of the alleged attack and report back. It described the case as “disturbing” and asked the district judge in Birbhum, the area where the alleged assault took place on Monday, to go to the village and file a report within a week.

The court acted amid growing outcry over the incident and the influence of village councils over people living in rural parts of the country. Activists have repeatedly said that politicians do not do enough to speak out against such groups because they rely on them for political support.

“The politicians need to do a lot more,” said Kavita Krishnan, of the All India Progressive Women’s Association. “I remember Dr Ambedkar [Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, author of the Indian constitution] saying there was a gap between the constitution and parts of Indian society. I think some politicians try and exploit this gap.”

The attack, involving anywhere up to a dozen men, was said to have been carried out after villagers found the woman with the Muslim man on Monday. They reportedly tied her to a tree before hastily convening a village council.

Village elders 'order gang-rape of young woman as punishment for relationship with outsider'  

The elders said the man and woman should pay a fine of the equivalent of up to £485. When the couple and the woman’s family said they could not pay such a sum, the headman apparently ordered that the woman be gang-raped as a punishment.

“We were dragged to a gathering where our community-headman was present. They told me to pay Rs50,000. When I said I couldn’t, they brutalised me,” the woman told The Times of India newspaper.

Other villagers said that the men had erected a bamboo platform on which the gang-rape was carried out. Police arrested 13 men who have been brought before a court and placed in custody.

 

The assault comes after a spate of high profile rapes in West Bengal which have brought Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee under fire for not doing enough to stop violence against women.

West Bengal recorded the highest number of gender crimes in the country at 30,942 in 2012 – almost 13 per cent of India’s total recorded crimes against women. These crimes include rape, kidnapping and sexual harassment and molestation.

Earlier this month, Kolkata witnessed public protests against police who have been accused of failing to act on the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl who was later burnt alive.

Amid the political row, the West Bengal state government on Friday transferred the top police official of the district for failing to follow proper procedures while arresting the suspects.

The woman is a member of the ethnic Santhal tribe. Her religion has not been disclosed but reports suggest the tribespeople are often animist, The man with whom she had been having a relationship for a number of years is Muslim and lives in a neighbouring village.

The women told police that the man visited her village, Subalpur, in Birbhum district of the state, on Monday to propose marriage, but was caught by other villagers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

SThree: Trainee Recuitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn