A 7-year-old girl went out after school on Wednesday to buy snacks in the Indian village of Rajnagar. When she did not return home that night, her father alerted the neighbors and began a search for the young girl.
Initially, her dad, Soumitra Barman, though she might have fallen into a pond while playing.
Instead, he found his daughter’s body swinging from a tree. Her clothes had been ripped off, leading villagers to suspect that she had been raped.
The villagers immediately turned their attention to 60-year-old Ratan Shah, a village tantric who was suspected of molesting women in the past.
Before police could intervene, the mob of villagers attacked Shah and two of his male friends.
When officers arrived in the village on Thursday morning, they found the three men unconscious and severely beaten.
The victim’s uncle, Samir Burman, explained that the villagers had attacked the men as an act of retaliation.
“The girl was gang-raped by these men. So the angry villagers started beating them. She had signs of torture,” Burman said.
Shah was later declared dead at a district hospital; the two other men were listed in critical condition.
The region’s police superintendent confirmed that the department is looking into the case. The girl’s body was sent for a postmortem exam.
Official statistics indicate that 25,000 rapes are committed every year in India. Activists, however, maintain that the actual number of rapes in the 1.2 billion-person nation is much higher, since many families pressure victims to stay quiet about sexual assaults.