woman in shadow
A disabled woman was reportedly stripped and molested by a mob in India's West Bengal - Representational image iStock

A disabled woman was stripped and molested by a mob in front of her 75-year-old mother on Saturday (21 January) in the Indian state of West Bengal. The elderly mother, who had spent six decades of her life in Bengal before relocating to Houston in the US, said the incident took place when they had gone to meet a relative in Hooghly district's Balagar village.

According to the septuagenarian woman, the villagers used sticks and rods to assault them. "We pleaded with folded hands, but they were in no mood to listen to us. Some of them were carrying iron bars. They hit us with stones and punched us," the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) woman recalled and added that the villagers, who suspected them to be child traffickers, tried to burn them alive inside their car.

"They sprayed a petrol-like liquid on the car and were about to set it afire when police arrived. I have never seen such brutality," the elderly mother of four was quoted as saying by the Times of India from her hospital bed.

The police on Sunday (22 January) arrested 11 people on charges of molestation and attempt to murder in the incident after the woman lodged a complaint. However, nine more people named in the police complaint are on run.

However, the villagers defended the mob's act and said rumours of increased activity of child traffickers had been spreading in the region and that only prompted the people to attack the mother-daughter duo.

A top police officer told the newspaper, "In most cases, rumours were spread through social networking platforms. It is difficult to track down the source in such cases."