A three-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped, sexually assaulted and hung naked from a tree by men posing as employees of a private nursing home in north Bihar's Madhubani district, police said on Saturday.
The incident took place late on Thursday at a village in Madhubani, about 190 km northwest from state capital Patna.
Reports said the girl had gone to the private nursing home, located under Bisfi police station, for a check-up along with her mother on Thursday evening.
Police investigations suggest the abductors offered toffees to lure the victim. She was then taken to a nearby village, assaulted and hung upside down from a mango tree.
"It appears the miscreants, after committing the crime, hung her upside down from the tree in the hope she would eventually die from the ensuing distress," said Aunsi police outpost in-charge Sanjay Kumar.
Kumar said the girl's family had initially registered a missing person's case when she could not be located at the nursing home for several hours. However, more serious sections of Indian Penal Code became applicable after she was found.
An FIR has been lodged at the Bisfi police station of Madhubani.
The girl was rushed to the Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) in the district headquarters town of Darbhanga, near Madhubani, where her condition is stated to be critical.
Doctors treating the girl said she has multiple injury marks on her body, indicating she was assaulted both physically and sexually.
"There are injuries on the victim's private parts. Her condition is critical but stable," said Dr Bhuvan at DMCH.
One of the prime suspects in the case was caught by villagers on Saturday and handed over to the police.
Madhubani's assistant superintendent of police, AK Pandey, told HT the police were able to identify the suspect as Mohammed Tabrez, a 35-year-old married man.
"We are questioning the suspect. He is believed to have played a role in the incident. However, information about the role of any other(s) in the crime will be known only after we have interrogated this man," said Pandey.