NEW DELHI • A 17-year-old battled for her life yesterday after being raped, doused in kerosene and set on fire, the second such case to shake India as it battles an increase in sexual crimes.
The teenager was attacked last Friday, on the same day and in the same eastern state of Jharkhand as a 16-year-old who was raped and burned to death.
"The girl has suffered 70 per cent first-degree burns. There is a chance that she will survive," Mr Shailendra Barnwal, police superintendent of Pakur district, told Agence France-Presse.
The victim has been moved to a private hospital with specialist facilities for "proper treatment and recovery", he said.
Police have arrested a 19-year-old man who lives in the same neighbourhood as the victim.
Fifteen people have been detained in the case of the 16-year-old who was torched to death in the state's Chatra district last Friday. The main suspect in that case is said to have been angered by a village council punishment of 100 sit-ups and the equivalent of US$750 (S$1,000) as fine for raping the girl.
He attacked her parents before setting their house on fire with the teenager inside.
The country is already agonising over the brutal attack on an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir state earlier this year, where eight Hindus have been accused of the Muslim girl's abduction, repeated rape and killing. Hindu activists have staged angry protests claiming that the police inquiry was biased.
The Supreme Court yesterday ruled the flashpoint trial should be moved away from Jammu, a Hindu-majority region of the Muslim-dominated state, to Pathankot in neighbouring Punjab state.
The victim's family made the request for the move, saying they feared for their lives.
Some 40,000 rape cases were reported in India in 2016, but campaigners say the real number is higher, with victims wary of making complaints due to social stigma.
Concern over women's safety has been heightened further by new police figures indicating 578 rape cases were reported in Delhi this year to April 15, against 563 in the same period last year.
The government has changed the law to allow execution for child rapists.