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
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence