KOLKATA, India (AP) — The father of a teenage girl who was allegedly gang raped and later died after being set on fire in eastern India is demanding a federal inquiry into the case, which has renewed public outrage over sexual violence in the country.
Hundreds of people protested Friday in the West Bengal city of Kolkata, accusing state authorities of failing to protect the family after the 16-year-old girl went to police in October to report she had been raped twice by the same gang.
The state’s urban development minister defended the police response, noting that six suspects had been arrested in the rapes and another two for allegedly setting the girl on fire.
“The state government has taken appropriate action in this case,” said the minister, Firhad Hakim.
The girl reported being gang raped and left in a field near her home in late October in the Madhyamgram suburb of Kolkata, formerly Calcutta. The next day she was allegedly abducted by the same gang and raped again before being left unconscious by railway tracks, police said.
The girl’s father, a taxi driver, said last week that his daughter was set on fire on Dec. 23 after being threatened with violence if she did not withdraw her police complaint. She died from her injuries on Wednesday.
The father is demanding that federal investigators take charge of the case. Neither the girl nor her father is being named by Indian media under laws guarding the identity of rape victims.
Last month, India marked the one-year anniversary of the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in New Delhi that triggered nationwide protests.
The outrage spurred the government to adopt more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women. Fast-track courts have been created for rape cases.
Four attackers in the New Delhi case were sentenced to death and a juvenile was sent to a reform center for three years.[Full story]