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Indian gang-rape victim dies after being set ablaze

11:44 PM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
Indian activists holds placards as they protest in Siliguri on June 24, 2013, following the recent gang rape and murder of a 20-year-old college student in Barasat, West Bengal. Indian lawmakers in March increased punishments for sex offenders to include the death penalty if a victim dies and a minimum 20-year prison sentence for gang-rape, but the new laws did not go far enough to tackle gender inequality or protect women, a UN special envoy said in May. AFP PHOTO/ Diptendu DUTTA- DIPTENDU DUTT
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(USA Today)-- Six Indian men face murder charges after a 16-year-old Indian girl they are accused of gang raping twice in October died Tuesday, a week after she said two suspects had set her on fire, according to police and news reports.

An autopsy revealed the girl was pregnant, the Hindustan Times reported. DNA tests are being conducted to determine if one of the suspects was responsible.

West Bengal police and local authorities are being assailed for allegedly harassing the girl's family and concealing her death-bed statement until Thursday. Police had treated her burning as a suicide attempt.

Wednesday, local police hijacked the hearse and tried to cremate her body, telling her family to "go back to Bihar," their hometown, according to the Times of India. Her parents said some officers and local "goons" tried to force her father to surrender the required death certificate.

"The police took away the body forcefully and tried to cremate it ... but could not as the death certificate was with the girl's father," an opposition Communist Party member told the Press Trust of India. "After the news spread, we too rushed to the crematorium and protested forcing the police to retreat."

In Kolkata and New Delhi, the nation's capital, hundreds of women and their supporters took to the streets in protest Thursday and later held candlelight vigils.

The girl told West Bengal police the suspects first raped her Oct. 25 in Madhyamgram, outside Kolkata, and then again the next night on her way home after filing a complaint at the local police station. One suspect is 17 years old, the Indian Express reported.

The girl's death comes a year after the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi that ignited a firestorm across the subcontinent and prompted Parliament to enact tougher anti-rape laws.

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