The 20-year-old woman gang-raped on the orders of a village council of “elders” in West Bengal was tied to a public platform to enable the entire village to watch as more than a dozen men took it in turns to abuse her, according to witnesses.
Her “sentence” was handed down by the council’s leader who urged the attackers to go “enjoy themselves” before up to 15 men raped the woman throughout Wednesday night.
The victim had been given the “punishment” after reportedly having an affair with a man from a neighbouring village who belonged to a different caste.
The village council ordered her rape as her family was unable to pay “reparations” of Rs 25,000 (£250) for the “crime”.
According to several reports the woman and the man in question – whose family managed to pay the “fine” – had been tied to separate trees as the village council debated the appropriate punishment. According to the Times of India, the woman’s family was not given any time to collect money for the fine.
‘Among those who raped her were teenagers and some old enough to be her father,’ said a villager. ‘Almost the entire village – including children – had joined the kangaroo court.
The victim later told police that she had lost count of how many men had attacked her.
The remote village has no electricity or a school and according to the Times of India, the local administration has been weary of interfering with tribal “traditions”.
One villager told the newspaper that it had been the “right move” by the village council.
The woman remains in hospital in a critical condition.
Twelve suspects along with the head of the village – some 120 miles from the state capital Kolkata – have been arrested following the attack, police said. The Indian Supreme Court has now ordered an investigation.
The head of Birbhum district police has since been abruptly sacked by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after officers did not seek to remand the men in police custody following the arrests, the Press Trust of India reports.