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Indian top court orders probe into gang rape Men flee village as outrage intensifies

NEW DELHI, Jan 24, (Agencies): India’s Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into the gang rape of a 20-yearold woman allegedly attacked on the direction of a village council, Press Trust of India news agency said Friday.

The woman told police that Monday’s attack in West Bengal state came as punishment for falling in love with a man from a different community and religion. The case has brought fresh scrutiny to the role of village councils, which are common in rural India. The councils decide on social norms in the village, and in some cases they dictate the way women can dress or who they can marry. Those who flout the councils risk being ostracized.

Male residents fled an Indian village Friday after the alleged gang-rape of a young woman on the orders of tribal elders as police told of how locals tried to prevent her from reporting her ordeal. A total of 13 men have been arrested over the assault on the 20-year-old which was allegedly as punishment for “dishonouring” her community, a scattering of mud huts set amid palm trees and fields of rice and mustard.

Her ordeal on Tuesday night, when she was taken to a thatched shed and repeatedly assaulted for a relationship she was having with a Muslim man, has rekindled the outrage in India over the treatment of women. Neighbours described the victim as a charming woman and said she planned to marry the Muslim companion.

Police near the village of Subalpur, about five hours drive from the state capital Kolkata, said that a mob had surrounded her house and threatened her with further violence if she spoke out. “Members of the village council threatened her with dire consequences if she lodged a complaint with the police,” Kazi Mohammad Hossain, a senior officer at the district police station in Labphur, told AFP. “The villagers surrounded her house but on Wednesday afternoon she managed to escape and came to the police station to file the complaint. “She was limping and bleeding when she came to the police station,” he explained. Most of the men had fled the village when AFP visited on Friday morning, leaving women and children who were reluctant to talk about the events of Tuesday night.

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