The death of an Indian teenager who was allegedly raped and burned alive

A 16-year-old Indian girl who was allegedly raped and then set on fire by her two assailants has died in hospital from her injuries, police in India said on Tuesday.

The young girl, a member of the Dalit community, once called “untouchables” and considered at the bottom of the Hindu caste scale, died on Monday in a hospital in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (north), after being attacked earlier in September.

The two men accused of raping and burning her were arrested “two hours after the incident was reported” and police assured the family of adequate surveillance, local police chief Dinesh Kumar Prabhu told AFP.

Police were deployed around the girl’s family home to “prevent untoward incidents”, Mr Prabhu added.

The police are often accused of not taking Dalit cases seriously. Additionally, in previous similar cases, low-class families were threatened or attacked to prevent them from testifying.

Dalit women are disproportionately victims of sexual crimes in a country where crime against women is already very high.

The girl’s death comes less than a week after the bodies of two Dalit sisters, aged 15 and 17, were found hanging from a tree near the village. They were allegedly raped and strangled by six men who arrested them.

Both incidents took place in Uttar Pradesh, an impoverished state of nearly 230 million people where such crimes regularly make headlines.

In late 2020, the state government sparked outrage in the country by cremating a 19-year-old Dalit girl at midnight, before any autopsy, after she was raped and killed by four upper-caste men, according to her family.

Nearly 32,000 rapes were reported in India in 2021, according to government figures – believed to be far below the reality, with many cases going unreported.

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