Calcutta anger as double gang-rape victim set on fire and burns to death

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 5:49pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 January, 2014, 2:14am

An Indian teenager who was gang-raped in two separate attacks has died after being set on fire, sparking protests in Calcutta.

The girl, 16, was assaulted on October 26 and again the day after by a group of more than six men near her family's home in Madhyagram town, just north of the city.

The second rape occurred as she was returning home after reporting the first attack at a police station.

She was set on fire on December 23 and died in hospital late on New Year's Eve, police said.

"She gave us a dying declaration in front of the health officials that she had been set on fire by two people who were close to the accused when she was alone at home on December 23," local policeman Nimbala Santosh Uttamrao said.

Police made their first arrests on Wednesday, two months after the initial crime, local police chief Rajiv Kumar said.

[They] tried to kill my daughter by setting her on fire to hush up their crimes

"The accused tried to kill my daughter by setting her on fire to hush up their crimes," the victim's father, a migrant taxi driver from India's poorest state, Bihar, said. Neither he nor the victim can be named for legal reasons.

Several hundred activists on Wednesday protested in Calcutta over the crime, which was shocking in its brutality, even after a year when sex crimes were widely reported in India.

Rampant rape, assault and harassment of women in India were in the spotlight in the past 12 months after the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in New Delhi in December 2012 sparked nationwide outrage.

The parliament has since passed tougher laws to punish rapists.

Despite the reforms, new cases of rape continue to be reported daily from across the country in the Indian press.

Activists say rape victims in India often face severe threats and intimidation from their attackers after the assault, while police often discourage them from lodging complaints.