Dimapur, the main city in northeastern India’s Nagaland state, has been placed under curfew after a rape suspect was lynched on Thursday, and hundreds of riot police are patrolling its streets. The rape suspect was pulled out of his jail cell and beaten before being dragged through the streets and hanged from a clock tower by a mob, Agence France-Presse reported.
Police are now “trying to bring the situation under control,” Meren Jamir, Dimapur’s superintendent of police, told AFP. "The curfew will continue until the situation improves. We will do whatever possible to stop any escalation." Local groups began protesting on Wednesday, demanding action against the alleged rapist, according to the BBC, which noted that while vigilante justice is not unheard of in the country, it is rarely seen on this scale, with thousands of people reportedly participating in the lynching.
The man, a Bangladeshi immigrant, was arrested in late February after being accused of raping a 19-year-old tribal woman multiple times. The incident has exacerbated existing ethnic tensions in the region, where indigenous tribal groups have for years accused Nagaland’s growing Bangladeshi immigrant community of illegally settling on their land. The state’s chief minister said that a number of Bangladeshi-owned businesses have been targeted and attacked since the lynching incident, according to AFP.
Rape has been a loaded subject in India since the 2012 gang rape of a student on a Delhi bus brought worldwide attention to the issue and raised pressure on authorities to address the widespread problem. Violence against women is a major issue in the country, with a rape being reported on average every 21 minutes, according to Reuters, and 309,546 crimes against women, including rape, sexual harassment and molestation, were reported to police in 2013, an increase from 244,270 from the previous year.