A four-and-a-half-year-old boy has been accused of raping his classmate in India's capital Delhi. In her complaint to the police, the victim's mother said that the boy used his finger and a sharpened pencil to assault her daughter.

The act resulted in wounds in her private parts, the Hindustan Times daily reported.

The girl's mother said that her daughter complained of pain in her lower abdomen after she returned from school on Friday (17 November).

The mother ignored the complaints thinking it was "one of her tantrums". Later in the night, the child began to cry and revealed to her mother that her classmate had unbuttoned her pants in the classroom and used his finger to assault her.

The girl tried to push him away, but with no staff member around, she could not ask for help.

The mother said she took her daughter to Rockland Hospital in the city to be treated for pain. On examination, doctors confirmed it to be a case of sexual assault and a police case was registered.

The city's deputy commissioner of police said that legal experts were consulted "since an offence was made out and there was a victim". A case of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act was registered.

The boy is likely to be the youngest to be charged for rape under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under Posco, Indian daily DNA, reported.

Considering the age of the boy, authorities have been asked to treat the case with sensitivity.

"The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides children below seven years of age certain protections against prosecutions. We are examining those provisions even as we are handling the matter with utmost sensitivity," Dependra Pathak, chief spokesman of the Delhi Police, was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

Dr Samir Parikh, director of the city's Fortis Healthcare's Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences was of the opinion that the assault could not be considered sexual in nature. "We must understand that it is absolutely not possible for a four-year-old to understand sexual behaviour. Is there a possibility of a sexual need being fulfilled in his case? Absolutely not."

Meanwhile, the girl's mother said she complained to the child's schoolteacher through a text message on the night of the incident. She also informed the school again the next day, but authorities there asked her to come back on Monday with a written complaint.

The school's lawyer reportedly said they had a caretaker present in every washroom of the school.