All the 13 accused in the gang rape of a 20-year-old Indian woman on the orders of a Kangaroo court have been remanded in judicial custody till Feb. 6.
Tied in a rope, the accused – most of them in their teens – were produced at Birbhum district court in eastern state of West Bengal on Thursday afternoon.
Sunil Soren, the chieftain of Salishi Sabha – a tribal court – ordered the tribals ‘to have fun’ after finding that the girl had ‘violated’ tribal code by dating a non-tribal man.
Soren, who enjoys a massive clout in the village, allegedly participated in the gang rape.
The woman told the police that she “lost count” of the men who assaulted her through Tuesday night at Subalpur village in Birbhum, about 111 miles from Kolkata.
She said: “They (rapists) are all our neighbours and I call some of them as kaka (uncle) and some others as dada (elder brother) or bhai (brother).”
In her complaint, she alleged the Salishi Sabha summoned her and her lover on Monday and detained them through the day and night.
The duo was tied to a tree in Shongthal village in the village square as the court discussed the issue.
The woman and her boyfriend were slapped with a fine of 25000 rupees each, but as the girl’s family expressed their inability to pay the fine, the court issued the diktat.
Qazi Hussain, a police officer, said the girl was allegedly gang raped inside the chieftain’s kitchen shed.
“They took turn to rape her after the headman told the villagers to have ‘fun with the woman’, ” he said.
“The girl doesn’t have a father and her mother works as a labourer. So she couldn’t pay the fine,” added Mr Hussain.
The incident took place on Monday but the girl and her family approached the police only on Wednesday as they had been threatened with death.
“They had threatened them that their house would be torched and they would be burnt alive if they approach the police,” Mr Hussain said.
The woman, who works as a labourer at construction sites, is still being treated at a local hospital.
She hasn’t been named, as it is illegal to name a rape victim according to the Indian laws.
For a similar ‘crime’, another tribal woman was stripped and paraded naked after the same court issued a diktat last year.
The incident has happened just three days after a call centre employee was gang raped on a moving vehicle in the heart of the city.
The incident also draws an uncanny resemblance to a similar incident in neighbouring Pakistan where a woman, Mukhtaran Mai, was gang raped, allegedly on the orders of a village council.
Ms Mai, whose case drew international attention, was punished for her brother’s alleged impropriety with a woman from a rival clan.
Around 10.5 million Santhals – one of India’s largest and oldest communities – live today in five states, mainly in eastern India.
They practice endogamy or marrying inside the clan, but with the exposure to new media and technology, the young generation is undergoing a rapid change.