Three men allegedly took three minor girls and three women to an isolated place at gunpoint in a Bihar village, tied them with ropes and forced alcohol down their throats before taking turns to rape them, the police said.
The incident took place on Wednesday at Kurmuri village in Bhojpur district of south central Bihar, about 90 km west of Patna. The women are ragpickers and belong to mahadalit community. Two of them are married.
The police have arrested two of the accused - Nilnidhi Singh, a scrap dealer and former area commander of Ranveer Sena, a now defunct private militia of landlords that was active in central Bihar in the 1980s and '90s, and his brother Jayaprakash Singh.
Till this report was filed, the third accused, Jaggu Pandit, was on the run.
In their complaint, the women told the police that they had gone to sell junk at Nilnidhi's shop at Kurmuri on Wednesday evening. They were asked to wait on the pretext that the scrap dealer had no change to pay them.
It was learnt the women agreed to stay overnight as it was already dark. Soon, however, the accused, brandishing pistols, took the women to an isolated place, tied them with ropes and forced alcohol down their throats before taking turns to rape them.
The women narrated the ordeal to family members on Thursday. Thereafter, the matter was reported to the police.
On Friday morning, hundreds of people, including CPI-ML (Liberation) activists, blocked the Fatehpur-Sikarhatta road, to press for the arrest of all the accused and suspension of station house officer of Sikarhatta police station.
The CPI-ML activists also took out procession in Ara town in protest against the incident.
The incident comes at a time when a mahadalit chief minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi, is heading the state. Mahadalit is a special category created by the Bihar government to identify the poorest among dalits so that they could be recipient of special benefits.
The chief minister on Friday directed the district magistrate (DM) and superintendent of police (SP) of Bhojpur to jointly inquire into the matter and submit the report within a week.
"The charge sheet against the accused should be filed at the earliest for a speedy trial of the case. The officials found lacking in discharge of their duties should also be punished as per rules," Manjhi said before leaving for New Delhi via Gaya.
The CM also directed for immediate payment of compensation to all the five victims under the provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
He ordered the Bhojpur district magistrate to provide alternative employment to all the five victims in government run schemes.
Bhojpur superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar said a case has been registered and deputy superintendent of police Krishna Kumar Singh has been asked to investigate.
The six women were brought to Ara Sadar hospital for medical examination by a team of doctors on Friday.
"After getting the medical examination report, we will submit the charge sheet in court against all the accused involved in this incident within a week and speedy trial of the case will be conducted to punish the guilty," Bhojpur district magistrate Pankaj Kumar Pal said.
Taking a serious note of the incident, state women commission has asked the Bhojpur SP to submit a report within five days. The commission will also inquire into the incident.