West Bengal gang-rape
West Bengal Gang Rape: Twice-Raped Teenage Girl was Burnt Alive by Attackers

A rape victim in the Indian state of West Bengal has reportedly been burned alive by her attackers after authorities failed to act on her initial complaint.

Police reports show that the victim, daughter of a taxi driver from the neighbouring state of Bihar, was raped twice by a local gang before being set on fire by her attackers.

The girl received 65% burns and died on New Year's Eve. Her case, which comes 12 months on from the Delhi gang rape, has sent shockwaves through India, which recently amended laws to ensure tougher penalties for crimes against women.

It is alleged that police lied about the circumstances of the girl's death, claiming she set herself on fire, while the Communist Party of India has alleged that the government of Mamata Banerjee denied justice to the victim and even helped the attackers.

The girl's father, a member of the trade union affiliated to the party, was allegedly even pressured by the police authorities to leave the state and return to his home state of Bihar with the daughter's body.

Horrifying chain of events

The girl and her mother went to police in the town of Madhyamgram after the first rape. However the victim's father subsequently claimed that police made them wait several hours before registering their complaint, and dissuaded the family from taking the legal route.

While returning from the police station, the girl was raped for the second time by the gang, ostensibly seeking revenge for her visit to the police.

"We went back to the police station but they took our signature on a statement written in Bengali, which we could not read. We realised later that it did not mention the second rape but stated my daughter had been molested," the father told the Indian Express newspaper.

The girl had named Sanjib Talukdar, Palash Debnath and three others in her complaint. The police arrested the duo, but this only set off a chain of events which led to the gruesome murder.

After the arrest of Talukdar, who had reportedly campaigned for the ruling Trinamool Congress party, his associates put pressure on the family to withdraw the complaint, threatening them with violence.

"Everywhere, I was insulted and they raised questions about my daughter's character," the girl's father said, according to the paper.

Fearing for their safety, the family moved to an area near Kolkata's Dum Dum airport, but the attackers chased them down. On 23 December, they came to the family's rented home, repeating the threats and demanding they withdraw the complaint.

The girl's mother ran out of the house to telephone her husband, who was out working. But when she returned the house was ablaze with her daughter inside.

'Police officials threatened me'

The girl's father claimed that prompt and efficient treatment was denied to her at the government-run R G Kar Hospital, which did not have a burns unit. The family wanted the girl to be moved to another government-run hospital with a burns unit, but the doctors allegedly refused the request.

Police said the girl had attempted to immolate herself and initial media reports said it was a suicide, but it was revealed later that the girl had said in her dying declaration that she was set on fire by two men.

"In her dying declaration before Dr Sudipta Singh and investigating officer Saidullah Sana at the hospital, she said Ratan Sil and Minta Sil, who were accused in the rape case, set her on fire," Nimbala Santosh Uttamrao, additional deputy commissioner of police, told the Hindustan Times.

The victim's father added: "The police officials threatened me and asked me to leave the state and return to Bihar with the body. The police officials and some local toughs also threatened that if I did not they would stop me from driving my taxi."

The dispute over the cremation of the girl's body has led to clashes between the workers of the ruling party and the opposition.

However the ruling Trinamool Congress has denied giving any assistance to the attackers and said the opposition was trying to tarnish its image.