NEW DELHI • Thousands have signed a petition urging protection for two Indian sisters after a local council allegedly ordered them raped and paraded naked as "punishment" after their brother eloped with a married woman.
Amnesty International said yesterday that more than 122,000 people have joined its online petition in recent days to protest at the order by the council of elders in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
One of the sisters filed a petition in the Supreme Court this month, seeking protection for her family after they were forced to flee their village in Baghpat district.
The family, from the lowest "untouchable" Dalit caste, was forced into hiding after the brother eloped with a woman from the village's dominant Jat caste, according to lawyer Vivek Singh.
The council of Jat elders issued the rape order against the sisters, aged 15 and 23, last month after members of the Jat caste falsely accused the brother of abducting the married woman, Mr Singh said.
"They wanted to take revenge for the actions of their brother."
The Supreme Court ordered the Uttar Pradesh authorities to reply to the sister's petition by Sept 15.
Amnesty called for an investigation into the council's order, saying Dalits suffered widespread discrimination. But Baghpat police chief Sharad Sachan said investigations did not uncover any rape threats.
Influential local councils have been blamed for abuses such as the sanctioning of "honour killings" of couples defying tradition.