A 20-year-old woman, who was allegedly gang-raped in West Bengal on Tuesday on the order of a village head , and her family have been placed under police protection after being ostracised by villagers and will be relocated, officials said on Sunday.
The case has sent shock waves across the country. The tribal woman, recovering in a hospital, has told the police she was gang-raped as a punishment for falling in love with a man from another community.
"The girl wants to go back to another village in the same district where her uncle lives," Bengal women and child welfare minister Shashi Panja said.
"She is scared of going back to the village where she was gang-raped since the villagers there do not want her back. The girl's family is also under protection of the police now."
Many villagers have denied the woman was raped and accused her of being immoral. Tribal leaders of Bengal have warned of an uprising if their age-old system of dispensing justice was threatened, even as the government is planning a crackdown on tribal courts, which settle disputes in the tribal community.
The ruling Trinamool Congress has been battling a series of sex crimes against women over the past two years. West Bengal topped states in crimes against women in 2011 and 2012, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
The Birbhum incident has put the Mamata Banerjee government under the spotlight yet again, barely days after a fitness centre employee was gang-raped in a moving vehicle in the heart of state capital Kolkata.
The fitness centre employee was targeted even as the state grappled with the shocking Madhyamgram rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl towards the end of 2013. The minor was gang-raped twice, her family hounded out of her home and then she was set ablaze at their new residence.