Ranchi: In a shocking incident, five women between the age of 20 and 35 from a non-profit organisation were performing a street play against human-trafficking in Jharkhand when they were abducted and taken to a forest where they were gangraped at gunpoint, police said, adding that the assault was allegedly filmed on mobile-phones.
Meanwhile, the men accompanying the women have been thrased by the miscreants.
The incident took place on Tuesday evening at Arki, where the 11-member team had gone to stage a street play against human trafficking.
A group of armed men barged in the middle of the performance, beat up the men and took away the women at gunpoint.
Unidentified men picked up nine activists during the street play being performed in the Kochang village and drove them into a dense forest, where the men were beaten up and the women raped, police officer Sinha said to news agency Reuters.
The police have detained nine people for questioning. Medical examination has confirmed rape and a case has been filed.
"We are not ruling out the possibility of the involvement of trafficking gangs and are investigating all aspects," police officer Ashwini Kumar Sinha was reported saying.
In their complaint, the women said they were performing a play to raise awareness about human trafficking in the largely tribal Khunti district of Jharkhand when they were abducted.
The women work for Asha Kiran, an NGO which is supported by a local Christian missionary group, said police officer Rajesh Prasad to news agency AFP.
Police have also held some supporters of Patthalgadi.
Patthalgadi is a traditional tribal practice where stone slabs with names of ancestors are put up.
Of late, the traditional practice has taken on political hues where supporters adhering to it urge people not to allow government officials and police to enter their areas.
"We are still processing what has happened," said Rajiv Ranjan Sinha of the Jharkhand Anti-Trafficking Network - a coalition of 14 grassroots organisations working in the state. "This is the first time field workers have been targetted and it is both surprising and shocking. It is now going to become more difficult to work on this issue."
Khunti has been witnessing Patthalgadi protests for the past many months. Stone slabs installed outside villages entrance announce that the writ of the government do not run there and the “gram sabha was all-powerful”.
The supporters of Patthalgadi keep a watch and do not allow government servants to enter villages without permission.
(With inputs from agencies)