Amid the unprecedented protests in India over a recent gang-rape and murder of a woman in New Delhi, a politician in the country was arrested Thursday for allegedly raping a woman in the northeastern state of Assam.
Senior leader Bikram Singh Brahma of the ruling Congress party was accused of raping a woman in Assam’s Chirang district and was beaten up by a mob before he was taken into police custody.
The Assam police acted after the victim's husband had reported the alleged rape, Chirang superintendent of police Kumar Sanjeev Krishna was reported as saying by the Indian Express.
“A rape has been committed and the accused has been arrested on a rape charge,” Inspector-General of Police (Bodoland Territorial Area District) G.P. Singh told the Hindu newspaper.
The accused allegedly entered the woman's house and raped her at about 02:00 am Thursday [20:30 GMT Wednesday] in Santipur along the Indo-Bhutan border. Hearing the cries for help, the villagers entered the house and captured the man, a police official told the Associated Press.
Television channels showed footage of Brahma, who is the Baksa district Congress Committee chairman and Congress coordinator of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), being stripped of his shirt and slapped by women in daylight.
The police arrived in the village at noon but the crowd initially refused to hand over the accused, according to a Times of India report.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who was in Delhi, condemned the incident, adding that anyone found guilty of the heinous crime "would not be spared, whether he is Congressman or not.”
"It is the most condemnable act. Anyone who commits rape or attempts it should be given stringent punishment," the Press Trust of India quoted Gogoi as saying. He added that his government had been strict in handling crimes against women.
Congress leader Digvijay Singh said that if the charges were proven, Brahma would be expelled from the party.
The incident sparked protests in the state where a group of demonstrators staged a sit-in near Dighalipukhuri in Guwahati demanding punishment for the accused. The opposition Asom Gana Parishad and the BJP demanded stringent punishment for Brahma.
Pressure has been mounting on the government to curb crimes against women after the gruesome gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi on Dec. 16 that triggered massive protests. The victim died on Dec. 29 due to multiple organ failure. Five suspects have been charged with the kidnap, gang-rape and murder of the woman while a minor, who was allegedly involved in the incident, will be presented before a juvenile court.