20-year-old tied to tree, gang-raped on orders of village council, say police

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Kolkata:  The police in West Bengal say a young woman 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 religion.

The 20-year-old is in a local hospital in critical condition.

13 men have been arrested for the barbaric crime which took place in a village in Birbhum district, some 180 km from Kolkata. However, other villagers deny the incident completely and are angry with the woman for reporting the matter to the police.

"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, the police say, 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 police says the woman 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. But her family helped her to file a police case.

"Though her condition continues to be critical, she is stable now. She has lost a lot of blood and only because she is physically and mentally very strong, she could survive the ordeal," said an official at the hospital where she is being treated.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been slammed in the past for allegedly not doing enough to curb crimes against women, has now ordered the removal of the Birbhum Superintendent of Police.


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