The 20-year-old woman gang-raped on the orders of a tribal 'kangaroo court' in West Bengal was attacked on a bamboo platform so the entire village, including children, could watch, witnesses have said.
“Her family could not pay, so go enjoy the girl and have fun,” the village chief allegedly told the men, according to a complaint filed by the woman's family.
The victim was then placed in a hut where she was savagely assaulted through the night by up to 15 men. She told police that she had lost count of how many attacked her.
Chillingly, the entire village reportedly joined the quickly assembled trial and hailed the ruling as “the correct move,” a villager told The Times of India.
An apparent free for all, “among those who raped her were teenagers and some old enough to be her father,” the man added.
Village elders 'order gang-rape of young woman as punishment for relationship with outsider'
The woman remains in hospital in a critical condition. The punishment was handed out after she was caught by villagers with a married man from outside her community and of a different ethnic group. He had been visiting her to propose marriage.
The pair were ordered to pay a 25,000 rupee fine (£240) each. When the woman’s family could not pay, the gang-rape was ordered. The man’s wife reportedly paid the fine by selling jewelry.
Twelve suspects along with the village head 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.
A court in the district, around 120 miles from Kolkata, placed the men in judicial custody for 14 days.