India arrests main suspect in gang rape-murder

Indian police have arrested the chief suspect in a case of gang rape and murder, in which a girl was burnt to death in front of her family.

In another gruesome case that has rocked the country, 18 men are wanted over the death of a 16-year-old girl in the hill state of Jharkhand.

The case comes amid public outrage in india over the treatment of women and children in light of several high-profile rape cases, starting with the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kashmir. 

In response to protests across the country and calls for stricter laws, the government announced last month that it would be introducing the death penalty for convicted child rapists. Minimum sentencing terms have also been raised and provisos issued that no rape case should take more than two months to prosecute. 

Sixteen suspects have been arrested in the Jharkhand case, with two more wanted, according to police, at a village in the district of Chatra.

"No one involved in the incident will be spared. We will provide security to family members till they feel secure," Shambhu Thakur, Inspector General of Chatra Police, told reporters.

Three were arrested on Friday night, while 11 others were held on Saturday, he said, with two more on Sunday. 

Insp Gen Thajkur added that the arrested include two village council members – Mukhiya Tileshwari Devi and Panchahyat Samiti.

 Indian relatives mourn following the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl on May 3, at Raja Kundra Village in Chatra district

Senior police and state officials have descended on the village of Rajakendua, 100 miles from the state capital of Ranchi, after the horrific case made national headlines.

The girl was allegedly abducted by four young men from near her house and raped, while the rest of the family had gone to attend a wedding party, said police.

The incident was raised at the village Panchayat (elders’ council) on Friday morning, and the tribal chiefs told the accused to pay Rs 50,000 (£488) to the victim’s family as restitution.

Enraged over the Panchayat verdict, the four youths allegedly went to the house of the girl, assaulted family members and burnt her to death, say police.

Police mobilised into action when the state’s Chief Minister, Raghubar Das, tweeted and expressed grief over the incident. Mr Das also assured people that no one involved in the incident would be spared.

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Action will also be taken against the village leaders for mishandling such a serious matter, police said. The state administration also announced a financial support of Rs 250,000 to the victim’s family.

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