THE family of a 10-year-old girl who was detained after complaining that she had been raped by a neighbour is now under police protection amid claims that she will be stoned to death if they do not withdraw the allegation.
The girl's overnight detention has caused growing anger in India as it seeks to improve security for women following the gang rape and murder of a Delhi student.
Four officers from the Kotwali women's police station near Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh were suspended pending an investigation after an Indian television crew, which happened to be in the station, filmed the girl behind bars.
She had gone to the police station with her mother, who had found her unconscious in a field after, she said, a 35-year-old higher-caste neighbour had raped her.
The girl is from one of four poor Dalit or "untouchable" families in a village dominated by higher-caste Lodhe Rajputs. Since making the complaint, the family has been under intense pressure from village elders to drop the claim and accept a "settlement" instead.
In an interview with the 'Indian Express', the girl's mother said the family had been warned they would be killed if they did not back down.
She said: "They have threatened to kill us, burn down our home and stone my daughter to death if we do not withdraw the rape case. Even the village panchayat (council) is asking us to settle the matter." (© Daily Telegraph, London)