KOLKATA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Outraged villagers in eastern India seized a man suspected of raping an eight-year-old girl and hanging her from a tree, beat him severely and set his house on fire, police said.
The girl went missing on Wednesday evening and police said they were called to the village, in East Midnapore district in West Bengal state, early on Thursday after her body was found.
"When we went to the spot the girl had already been brought down from the tree. We suspect that she was raped and killed. A post-mortem is awaited to confirm our suspicion," a police official, who declined to be named, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Angry villagers who found the girl’s body went to the house of the man they suspected of killing her, who had been feuding with the girl’s family for some time, beat him up and set his home on fire, the official said. Police took him to hospital but he died later of his injuries.
India has witnessed a spate of rapes in the last two years, including a similar incident in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh where two girls were hanged from a tree after their alleged rape in May this year.
Sex crimes, once a taboo topic in India, have become front-page news. They have also become political minefields after the former national government led by the Congress party seemed slow to react to a surge of public anger after a 2012 gang rape in Delhi.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of rapes reported to the authorities in India rose to 33,707 in 2013, up 35.2 percent from the previous year.
(Editing by Nita Bhalla and Tim Pearce)