Sixteen village elders were arrested in Telangana’s Adilabad district on Saturday after they allegedly settled a gang rape case.
Police were on lookout for four other elders who fled Pallemguda village in Kasipet mandal.
The incident, in which five villagers sexually exploited the 14-year-old girl for nearly a year, came to light after the girl became pregnant.
The village elders held a panchayat to settle the issue a few days ago. It asked the five accused to pay Rs 50,000 each to the girl’s family and decided that the pregnancy should be terminated. One of the accused was also ordered to marry the girl but he refused.
The victim’s family lodged a complaint with Mandamarri police station two days ago.
All five accused, including a father and son, have been arrested and booked under Nirbhaya Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Police said 20 village elders were booked for hushing up the case.
The girl was studying in a school, located some four kilometres from the village. An auto driver who used to take her to school began sexually exploiting her and four others raped her separately.
According to police, this exploitation continued for nearly a year and the matter came to light after the girl’s parents learnt that she is pregnant.