A young woman in West Bengal has alleged she was tied up to a tree on Monday night on the orders of the village council before she was gang-raped as punishment for falling in love with a man from a different community.
The 20-year-old is in a local hospital in critical condition. Sources say it is a case of gang-rape but official results of the medical examination, which has been conducted, are awaited.
13 men have been arrested for the barbaric crime which took place in a village in Birbhum district, some 180 km from Kolkata.
"The morol (village headman) ordered that I be 'enjoyed' by the men of the village. Following his orders, at least 10-12 people, including (some) members of a single family, continuously raped me. I lost count of how many times I was raped," said the woman.
The village elders, she alleges, summoned the young woman and the man she was seeing, tied them to a tree and asked them to pay Rs. 25,000 each as penalty for their relationship.
The woman's family allegedly said they could not afford the fine.
The woman alleges she was then forcibly moved to a small hut where she was sexually assaulted by at least 10 men.
When she was released, she was warned not to share her ordeal. Only on Wednesday was her family able to sneak out of the village and file a police case.
However, other villagers deny the incident completely.
A young mother of two infants, whose husband's brother is among those arrested, says "She is a bad character. She was going around with this non-tribal man. We told her not to but she didn't listen."
"The salishi sabha (kangaroo court) went on the whole night. I was there. When was it possible to gang-rape the girl? ... If she dares to come back to the village, I will kill her," the young mother said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee this evening ordered the removal of the Superintendent of Police, Birbhum district, apparently for his mishandling of the incident.