Four Muslim youth have been accused of gang-raping a Hindu teenage girl for 10 days forcing her to convert to Islam. The incident has taken place in a communally sensitive area known as Muzaffarnagar in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Muzaffarnagar region, located close to capital New Delhi, has witnessed serious communal violence in the past. The latest incident is bound to raise tensions in the area as authorities try to handle the situation carefully.
The 16-year-old victim has accused the four young Muslim men – identified by the police as Akram, Aslam, Ayyub, and Salim – of raping her in captivity after abducting her. The suspects are thought to have been known to the victim.
"The girl has filed a FIR [First Information Report] against four youths -- Akram, Aslam, Ayyub and Salim -- for gang-raping for about 10 days," said local police officer Mohammad Rizwan, according to the Hindustan Times.
She was waiting for public transport on 6 September when she was offered lift by the perpetrators to drop her off at the uncle's place. However, after entering the suspects' car, she was kidnapped and constantly relocated to different places during the captivity.
The suspects had reportedly attempted to forcibly feed her meat and compelled her to convert to Islam. They later released her but threatened her with harsh consequences if she reports to the police.
However, the incident came to light when her parents filed a formal complaint against the alleged rapists.
The men are still at large and officials have launched the manhunt to capture them. Some Hindu activists have already made demands for a speedy justice.