01/02/2014 06:28 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Gang Rape Sparks Protests In Kolkata After Police Reveal Young Victim Was Pregnant, Burned Alive

Protesters took to the streets of Kolkata Thursday during a vigil for an adolescent gang-rape victim who died in India earlier this week.

The young girl, who was allegedly gang-raped twice in October, succumbed to her injuries in a hospital Tuesday, about a week after she was admitted with severe burns. School records indicate the girl was 12 years old, the Hindustan Times reports.

The young girl's death has spurred many concerned community members and political officials to question the circumstances of the case, as well as its handling by authorities in West Bengal government. While initial reports labeled the burns covering the teen's body the result of self-immolation, statements from the victim and her father indicated that foul play was a factor.

On Thursday, police revealed the girl's third-degree burns were not the result of a suicide attempt, NDTV reports. Authorities also announced the teen was pregnant at the time of her death.

Though authorities are now pursuing murder charges, legal experts are dubious that the charges will stick, given the period of time it has taken for police to take action and the death of the sole witness, the Times of India reports.

In another twist, police tried to forcibly cremate the body against the family's wishes, the Indian Express reports. However, the girl's father refused to hand over his daughter's death certificate.

Since the feud over the girl's remains came to light, State Congress President Pradip Bhattacharya has called for a India's national police agency to investigate.

"It is quite obvious that the police tried to forcibly cremate the victim's body to suppress evidence and that is why we are demanding a [Central Bureau of Investigation] probe," Bhattacharya told The Hindu.

The case dates back to late October, when the girl, originally reported as being 16, was allegedly gang-raped by a group of more than six men near her home in Madhyamgram, a small town near Kolkata. After reporting the sexual assault the next day, the teen was allegedly gang-raped for a second time on her way home from the police station.

The girl and her family relocated, but, on Dec. 23, she was reportedly set on fire inside her new home. At the time, it was believed that the teen tried to commit suicide. However, in the victim's final statement to investigators from her hospital bed, she said that she was set ablaze by two men associated with the accused, the Agence France-Presse reports.

Local Police Chief Rajiv Kumar told AFP that the first arrests in the case were made Wednesday -- more than two months after the initial crime.

The girl was ultimately cremated Wednesday, following a posthumous examination. The fetus was sent for DNA testing.

CLARIFICATION: This post has been edited to clarify that some outlets reported the victim as being 16 years old. The Hindustan Times reported it received confirmation the girl was 12.



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