A 10-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by a 35-year-old neighbour has been threatened with stoning unless her family withdraws the claim.
The girl was reportedly found unconscious in a field by her mother after the man, from a higher caste, raped her.
According to The Telegraph, the girl is from one of the four poor Dalit or “untouchable” families in a village dominated by higher caste Lodhe Rajputs.
The girl’s mother told the Indian Express: “They have been threatening to kill us, burn down our ancestral home and stone my daughter to death if we do not withdraw the rape case.
“Even the village panchayat, (village council) including the sarpanch (elected head) is in favour of the accused and is asking the family to settle the matter.
“We are so scared that we cannot go out of our house. A day after the incident, all the Rajputs came and encircled our house.
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“They told me to settle a price for my daughter and keep quiet about the case or else they would stone her to death.”
The Hindustan Times writes the girl was locked up by police for 20 hours after her parents brought her to an all-woman police station in Bulandshahr, Utter Pradesh, to report the rape on Sunday.
It adds the matter came to light after a TV journalist learned of what had occurred and attended the police station where he filmed the girl.
Several police personnel have been suspended and an inquiry has been opened into why the girl was jailed, while three officers have been posted outside the family's home after a confrontation with relatives of the accused.
The accused has been arrested but claims he simply scolded the girl for stealing tomatoes. The Press Trust of India reports a medical examination has found no evidence of internal or external injuries, although doctors have not ruled out a sexual assault.
Dalits are said to be the bottom of the social hierarchy and are often ostracised and forced into menial jobs.
Brahmins are generally considered to be the highest caste group, although laws banning discrimination on these terms have failed to make much difference.