Published On: May 7, 2018 09:58 AM NPT By: Agencies
NEW DELHI, May 7: Police have arrested a man in the alleged kidnapping and gang rape of a girl who was then burned to death, according to a local official.
Dhanu Bhuiyan, whom the victim's family accuses of orchestrating the crime, was arrested on Saturday, Jitendra Kumar Singh, deputy commissioner of Chatra District, told CNN.
Police have not charged Bhuiyan with any crime and are still investigating the matter, the deputy commissioner said.
The incident is alleged to have taken place in a rural village in India's northeastern state of Jharkhand. Police said Saturday they are waiting for a medical board to conduct an autopsy of the girl's body.
After the parents reported the case to the police, 15 of the 20 accused men were arrested, said Singh. The head of the village council is also in custody, Singh said.
"We are waiting for the outcome of the medical reports and the police investigation report to arrive at a conclusion," Singh told CNN.
The 16-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped Thursday night while the family was attending a wedding, then taken to a nearby forest and raped by a group of men, according to Ashok Ram, the officer in charge of the Itkhori police station, which overseas the village.
The family said they approached the village council on Friday seeking justice, he told CNN.
Village councils in India, called panchayats, wield significant power in rural villages throughout India and can dole out punishment. Removed from cities and the court systems, panchayats resolve local disputes simply because they're the only recourse available in remote areas. Critics denounce them as kangaroo courts and say they perpetuate patriarchy. These councils do not have any legal authority.
The village council ordered the accused men to do 100 situps and imposed a fine of 50,000 rupees ($750), Ram said.
The men were enraged by the penalty, Ram said. They assaulted the victim's parents and set their house on fire with the help of friends, Ram said. The girl died in the fire, he said.
Raghubar Das, the chief minister of the state of Jharkhand, tweeted that he was heartbroken by the incident.
"There is no place for such barbaric acts in a civilized society," he said.
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