As the five men accused of gang-raping a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16 face murder charges, a crowd in Assam, India, took justice into their own hands Thursday by stripping and publicly beating a senior official accused of rape.
The New York Times reports that a crowd captured Bikram Singh Brahma, a member of the Congress Party in Assam, after he allegedly raped a woman while he was staying at the family's house on Wednesday night.
Villagers reportedly ran into the house and captured the man after hearing the woman's screams, the Associated Press writes. A local TV station subsequently captured how a group of women started stripping Brahma of his shirt and began to slap him. Men joined the fray and kicked the politician, ultimately restraining Brahma for several hours until police arrived on the scene around noon Thursday.
Although the crowd initially refused to hand Brahma over to the authorities until he made a public confession, police eventually took him into custody, according to the Times of India.
"We are taking this issue very seriously," senior police officer G.P. Singh said, the AP reports.
According to Singh, officials registered a case against Brahma under Indian Penal Code 376 and are currently investigating the circumstances of the situation, such as why Brahma was staying in the family's house at the time of the alleged rape.
Pending the investigation, Brahma has been suspended from the party, Congress spokesman Haren Das told news service IANS.
Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister of Assam, condemned the alleged attack saying anyone found guilty of committing the 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," Gogoi told Indian news agency PTI.
Following the recent death of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim, sexual abuse and atrocities against women in India have been thrust into the international spotlight. If a newly filed petition with India's Supreme Court passes, Indian politicians with pending criminal charges may be barred from contesting elections on both national and local levels, according to the Wall Street Journal.