Suspecting a tribal woman to be involved in the murder of her husband, other residents of her village in Andhra Pradesh's Warangal district disrobed her in public, thrashed her, and paraded her round the village.
The shocking incident occurred Saturday at Jalli tanda, a tribal hamlet of Chennaraopeta mandal (circle) in Warangal district, about 250 km from here.
Hemli, 28, was accused of killing her husband with the help of her lover.
Unmindful of television reporters filming the incident, about 200 villagers, including a large number of women, thrashed and stripped her. They even threw chilli powder on her private parts.
Hemli's husband J. Biksham was murdered when he was aseleep, allegedly by K. Mohan and four others Friday night. His throat was slit in front of his three children.
Even before the police could act and apprehend the guilty, the villagers started assaulting Hemli, who allegedly had illicit relations with Mohan.
According to villagers, Mohan's wife had committed suicide five months ago after a heated argument over his relationship with Hemli. They said Biksham and Hemli often fought over the extramarital relations.
A panchayat or village council meeting was held some time back to sort out the issue. However, villagers said Hemli failed to mend her ways. They alleged that she conspired with her lover to kill her husband.
Two policemen reportedly stood silent spectators as villagers took turns to thrash the woman. The policemen acted only after an hour to disperse the mob. A seriously injured Hemli was shifted to a hospital in Narsampet.
She denied involvement in her husband's murder and alleged that Mohan and his associates killed him.
The police have registered a case of murder against Hemli, Mohan and four others, who are now missing. Chennaraopet sub-inspector of police Sridhar Rao said the case was under investigation.
However, the police have failed to arrest any of those involved in disrobing and assaulting the woman.
Senior officials denied that the two policemen stood by mutely as she was being beaten. They claimed the policemen reached the village when Hemli was being thrashed and saved her from the mob.