A Knife
A Knife Image Credit: Flickr/ Walt Stoneburner

Relatives of a man accused of rape in India tried chopping off the tongue of his victim to prevent her from testifying.

The 19-year-old victim, who was gang-raped in January, was attacked by the attacker's three relatives as she she stepped out of her house in Uttar Pradesh.

L R Kumar, Superintendent of Police in the Pratapgarh District, said the attackers have been identified as cousins of the 20-year-old rape suspect, known as Lavlesh, who is currently in detention in connection to the rape case.

The three attackers have been charged with attempted murder of the girl.

"On Wednesday, cousins of the accused identified as Lalji, Inder and an unidentified youth attacked the girl to teach her a lesson," Kumar said, according to a report in Times of India.

A medical examination revealed that the girl's tongue was left with a "simple" 2.5 cm wound, however this was caused by a blunt object. According to Kumar, this may have happened due to a punch by the attackers.

"The victim's tongue might have got bitten by her teeth due to the impact of the punch,'' Kumar added.

The girl's family believes that the attack was carried out on the girl to disable her from testifying against Lavlesh during the court hearing which is scheduled for 24 July.

According to Raj Kumar, officer-in-charge of Jethwara police station, Lavlesh was charged with rape after the girl's family registered a case earlier this year.

The girl and Lavlesh were reportedly in a relationship and were supposed to get married. However, the couple had a spiteful break-up, following which the girl accused Lavlesh of raping her along with two other men, who have yet to be identified.

Before Wednesday's attack, Lavlesh's family has been constantly pressurising the girl's family to withdraw the charges against Lavlesh.