Two more Indian tribal women 'forced to walk naked'

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

image captionSome members of the Santhal tribe object to women marrying outside their community

Two more tribal women have been stripped and forced to parade naked in front of large crowds in the Indian state of West Bengal, police say.

The incidents were in the same area - the Birbhum district - where a similar case took place four months ago.

Locals say that the women were being punished for "having close relations" with men from other communities.

Birbhum police spokesman Humayun Kabir told the BBC that the two women in the latest incidents had filed cases.

Superintendent Kabir said that reports about one of them committing suicide could not be confirmed.

'Extreme punishment'

"I have no reports that this is the case," he said, "although I know such reports are circulating. The police are investigating."

Superintendent Kabir said the two women were from Jetia village and worked in a stone quarry.

"Local tribespeople did not like these women enjoying close relations with men from other communities," he said.

He said that they were subjected to this this "extreme punishment of public stripping" after they were found pillion riding with them on motor-bikes.

All three women belong to the Santhal tribe.

The Women's Commission in West Bengal announced an inquiry into the first incident after it was widely reported in the media.

The main focus of the inquiry will be to find out why the woman's family maintained ''such a long silence" and how the local administration "remained oblivious of such a shocking incident", Commission Chairperson Malini Bhattacharya said.

But she could not be reached for comment on the two recent cases that have now surfaced.

Officials say all three women were forced to walk long distances without their clothes - in the first case, the woman was also filmed.

They say that the "hapless women" were molested and jeered by large crowds as they walked.

A similar thing happened to another woman three years ago in the neighbouring state of Assam.

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