Conflicting reports surface over alleged gang rape in Bihar, India


Indian protesters burn a rapist in effigy Dec. 26, 2012, in New Delhi, India.


Sajjad Hussain

Conflicting reports have emerged about the final hours of a woman who was found hanging dead in a mango orchard on Sunday in Bihar, India.

The 32-year-old woman was initially reported to have been gang-raped and killed, though reports have now surfaced suggesting that she was not sexually assaulted, and that her death may have been a suicide.

According to the Muslim News, before her death the woman was traveling from Alipore to Delhi by train with her 10-year-old son and two relatives, to join her husband in the city.

Muslim News wrote that the woman was "gang raped, killed and her semi-naked body hung from a tree in a mango orchard in Kahalgaon." 

The region's senior superintendent, K.S. Napalm, told Bloomberg Business Week that the woman was found hanging by her sari and that there was "evidence that she was sexually assaulted and that the attack was carried out by more than one person." 

The woman reportedly tried to get off the train at Sahibganj but was stopped by her fellow passengers, the Indian Express reported

She is thought to have jumped off the train when it slowed down between stations, though there are conflicting reports as to whether she was fleeing from attackers or not. 

Police investigating the case have now said that the unidentified woman may not have been raped, and instead committed suicide, NDTV reported

GlobalPost senior correspondent in New Delhi Jason Overdorf said that Indian media have reported nearly every rape case filed with police since the tragic death of a 23-year-old rape victim, in an effort to illustrate the pervasive nature of violence against women in the country. 

"Apart from pressuring the central and state governments to take actions to protect women and strengthen laws, the persistent reports are shaking Indians from every walk of life out of the condition of willful blindness that has in the past insisted that this kind of violence doesn't happen in 'modern India,' or in its mythically idyllic villages, or in its 'good families," says Overdorf.

"The hope is that this will make victims more willing to come forward, make their families more willing to support them, and make the police more vigilant in pursuing their attackers," he added.

In another recent incident, a 29-year-old woman was attacked and raped when she was traveling alone on an illegally operated bus in the northern state of Punjab. Police are investigating the case.

More from GlobalPost: New India bus rape case leads to six arrests

Jason Overdorf contributed reporting from New Delhi. Follow him @joverdorf.