A village council in northern India has denied allegations that it ordered two young sisters to be raped because their brother eloped with a higher caste woman. The council’s purported ruling led to an international outcry and hundreds of thousands of people have demanded their safety.
Now, members of the village council in the Baghpat region of northern India have told Reuters they passed no such order. Family members of the two sisters also told Reuters they are unsure if the ruling was made. And local police deny any such directive was given.
When the accusations first emerged last month, they spread like wildfire. An online petition by Amnesty International seeking justice and protection for the low-caste sisters gathered over 260,000 signatures, mostly in Britain.
But family members said in interviews with Reuters the information that the council made such an order may have just been gossip. “It is all hearsay, we don’t know if this actually happened,” said Dharam Pal Singh, 55, the women’s father and a retired soldier. “We heard it from other villagers.”
He identified one of the villagers, a man who also said he had heard it from others. The incendiary allegations were contained in a petition to the Supreme Court filed last month by a lawyer for the Singh family seeking protection for the sisters. It said one of Singh’s sons fell in love with a married woman of a higher caste, leading to a row between the two families.
In its most sensational claim, the court filing said Meenakshi Kumari, 23, and her 15-year-old sister fled their home after being told they would be stripped naked and paraded with their faces blackened before being raped to atone for their brother’s transgression.