Fifteen people were arrested over the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 16–year-old girl in India’s eastern state of Jharkhand, officials said on Saturday.
The teenage girl was burnt alive inside her home in the Chatra district on Friday, allegedly by men who had raped her a night before.
The key suspects were among those arrested since Friday night, and five more were still at large, the region’s top official Jitendra Kumar Singh said.
The girl’s family said four men, allegedly drunk, kidnapped her from a wedding she was attending in a nearby village on Thursday night. They then took her to a deserted spot and sexually assaulted her.
The girl’s father later complained to the members of the village council, but the accused men were let off after a punishment of 100 sit-ups and a fine of 50,000 rupees (750 dollars), Singh said.
“The family says that the men, angered over the complaint, barged into their home, beat them and set the girl on fire after pouring kerosene on her,” he said.
Medical tests to confirm the sexual assault were being conducted.
“The four men have been arrested along with village council members. We are carrying out raids to arrest five others, who are still on the run,” Singh said.
A special investigation team has been set up which is probing the case as state chief minister Raghubar Das has promised strict action against the culprits, including village council members who did not report the matter to the police.
The crime has been reported against the backdrop of spiralling outrage over the rape and killing of an 8-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir and several other cases of sexual assault of young girls in recent months.
India’s federal government recently approved stringent punishments for sexual violence against children, including the death penalty for those convicted of raping girls younger than 12.