Police arrested 14 of 18 people on Saturday in connection with the alleged gang rape and the live burning of a 16-year-old girl in the village of Raja Kendua in the Chatra district of Jharkhand the previous day.
The Law on the Protection of Minors against Sexual Offenses (POCSO) against the accused has been invoked since the victim was a minor.
“Charges of group rape have been invoked against the accused, but we await the post-mortem report before reaching a conclusion,” said Bokaro Police Inspector General Shambhu Thakur.
The district administration has set up a medical board to perform an autopsy of the burned-out body, he added.
The local panchayat had imposed a fine of 50,000 rupees on the defendant for allegedly raping the girl on Friday afternoon. Enraged by the order, the main defendant, Dhanu Bhuiyan, and his henchmen allegedly immolated the victim and brutally assaulted his family.
The Mukhiya people Tileshwari Devi and panchayat samiti member Ranjay Rajak are among those arrested, Thakur said. Both were accused of approving illegal orders and tampering with evidence.
However, Dhanu Bhuiyan is still fleeing. “Raids are being carried out to catch him and others as soon as possible, and we are also investigating the role of other villagers in the incident,” said the Inspector General.
Complicated security arrangements have been made in the village of Raja Kendua, at the Itkhori police station, to avoid any adverse incident. Senior civil and police officials visited the village to meet with relatives of the afflicted on Saturday, hours after the prime minister ordered harsh measures against criminals.
“A persecution has begun to capture four others who are running away,” Thakur said, adding that the victim’s family has been granted protection.
Chatra’s deputy commissioner, Jitendra Singh, also met with the family members and handed them a check of Rs 1 lakh as financial aid. Police Superintendent Chatra Akhilesh B Verior has been camping in the village since the incident occurred.