Days after three men raped a 14-year old girl, in Panki of Palamu district, the girl's family demanded action against the local police for delay in registering an FIR and for detaining the girl's older brother overnight in the police station when he approached the police for assistance.

The family had approached the police after the panchayat intervened asking the girl's family to settle for an apology by the three accused instead of registering a case.

“The panchayat leaders in the village said the three accused should do 50,000 uthak-baithak (prostrations) in front of the family members as punishment and that we accept their apology. I refused and contacted the police," said the girl's 18-year-old brother.

He was instead locked up in the police station along with the accused on January 28.

"The thanedar (SHO) asked me to bring two of the accused, whom we had nabbed with the villagers' help, to the police station. At the police station, thanedaar Rajesh Mandal did not register FIR and locked me up along with one of the accused instead even as I pleaded that I was her (the victim's) brother. He allowed the second accused to go,” the brother said, adding, "They kept saying, 'did you do it?' and threatened me. At 1 pm the next day, after my sister came to the police station, they allowed me to go.”

CPI (ML) protests

The police action triggered protests by members of the CPI (ML) who called a bandh in Panki on Tuesday. CPI (ML) workers have alleged that the police arrested and beat five party workers for demanding justice for the girl's family.

“The panchayat had ruled in favour of the more influential families, and the local police were pressuring the family to negotiate with the accused. They did not register a complaint on January 27 and 28 and instead detained and beat our workers RN Singh, Arun Singh, Aslam, Dinesh in custody at night,” said Kavita Singh, secretary All India Progressive Women's Association in Palamu.

Palamu Superintendent of Police YS Ramesh said the police arrested CPI(ML) workers after the bandh turned violent and that he had no information about the girl's brother being detained. “We had received complaints from bus owners after they broke bus windows. The thanedar (SHO) had reported that the girl's family was reluctant to complain,” he said.