PATNA, INDIA – Indian police said Saturday five people have been arrested for allegedly gang-raping a Japanese researcher near a famed Buddhist pilgrimage center.
The 22-year-old woman was allegedly kept captive for nearly three weeks in a village near the holy town of Bodh Gaya, about 130 km south of Patna, capital of Bihar state, officer Akhilesh Singh said.
The woman managed to escape on Dec. 26 and reached Kolkata, where she was based and filed a complaint with police.
Before reaching Kolkata, she got to Varanasi, where she met Japanese tourists who helped her contact the Japanese Consulate in Kolkata, an officer involved in the investigation said.
According to Singh, a Kolkata-based tourist guide took the scholar, who has been studying rural life in India for some time, to Bodh Gaya to show her the pilgrimage center where Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, is said to have obtained enlightenment under a tree. He was later joined by four others who imprisoned and raped her, Singh said.
Two of the arrests were made in the area Friday and one earlier in the week in Kolkata, police said.
India has a long history of tolerating sexual violence, but several high-profile rapes of both foreigners and natives recently triggered public outrage that led to reforms.
Prison terms for rape have since been doubled to 20 years and voyeurism, stalking and trafficking of women are now official crimes.
The law also makes it a crime for officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made