A man suspected of molesting a local woman was tied to a tree in a West Bengal, India, village and beaten by a vigilante mob on Sunday, according to news reports (video below).
A major search in Malda district began after the woman notified locals about the incident, RT reported. Once the suspect was located, a man and a woman beat him with a broomstick.
Several residents witnessed the beating, before the man was untied and detained by a local police officer.
The fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus in 2012 has led to growing opposition to the widespread problem of violence against women in the country. According to RT, the practice of molesting women is traditionally described as “Eve-teasing,” a term which places responsibility for the sexual harassment on the woman for tempting the perpetrator.
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But vigilante justice is also a major problem in the region.
According to Kangla Online, a vigilante mob beat a 13-year-old boy to death in neighboring Bangladesh because he stole a bicycle.
The report also pointed to the issue of religious-inspired mobs in Pakistan, which often take matters into their own hands in blasphemy cases.
Courts are not always able to punish those involved in handing out vigilante justice, according to Kangla Online. One such example of this was the Best Bakery case of 2002, when 14 members of a Muslim family were burned to death in the Indian state of Gujarat. In 2003, a court found all of the 21 accused not guilty due to lack of evidence.
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The fate of the man in Malda was similar to that of a doctor in the same district, who was beaten on Sunday after advising a woman in labor to be transferred to a local hospital. During the trip, her baby died, and the vigilantes blamed the doctor.
It remains unclear whether the man accused of molestation has been formally charged for the incident.