Japanese Woman Headed to Buddhist Site Kidnapped And Gang Raped By Tour Guides

Five men have been arrested in India charged with kidnapping and repeatedly raping a Japanese student over a period of more than a month.

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A total of 5 men have been arrested in the eastern city of Calcutta charged with kidnapping and repeatedly raping a Japanese student. As per police, the assaults took place over a period of more than a month from 23 November and in two locations.

A Japanese student has allegedly been kidnapped and gang raped near the holiest site in Buddhism.

Five men have been arrested in relation to the assaults, which police in Kolkata said took place over more than a month from 23 November until the victim managed to escape.

The woman, who had been studying in India, was allegedly kidnapped by her tour guides as she headed to Bodh Gaya, a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the central state of Bihar, police said

She was held at gunpoint and raped repeatedly by two men, according to Pallab Kanti Ghosh, spokesman for the police in Kolkata, where the case is being investigated.

Bodh Gaya, one of the holiest places in the world for followers of Buddhism, is considered to be the location where Buddha gained enlightenment. It attracts a stream of foreign tourists, including many from Japan, who regularly travel to this and other important Buddhist sites around India.

On 2 January 2015, police arrested Sajid Khan and his brother, Jawed Khan. Both of them worked as tour guides in Calcutta and had accompanied the woman to the pilgrimage site. Three other men were arrested in Calcutta in connection with the crime.

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Formal charges haven’t been filed against the men. According to police, the preliminary criminal complaints allege that Sajid and Jawed Khan committed rape and that the other three, unnamed men allegedly committed kidnapping and conspiracy.

The five men couldn’t be reached for comment. It is not known if the men have legal representation.

As per police, an organised gang is suspected of targeting single women tourists. Increasing numbers of rape cases are being reported and highlighted in India, prompting widespread outrage.

Pallav Kanti Ghosh, a Calcutta police commissioner, told BBC Hindi that two of the men - said to be brothers - approached the 23-year-old victim as tourist guides after she arrived in the city and checked into a hotel in an area popular with foreign tourists.

"She was trafficked at Buddhist holy site."

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Police claim that the alleged rapists traveled with the victim from Kolkata on Nov. 23. She was first taken to the seaside resort town of Digha, where she was forced to withdraw 76,000 rupees ($1,200) from a cash machine, police say. She was then allegedly taken to Gaya, near the pilgrimage site, where she was locked in a room and raped over the course of two weeks.

The alleged rapists were apprehended in their home village of Taro, which is 50 kilometers east from Gaya. They were taken to Kolkata after the arrest.

The woman was released by her captors in late December, and she traveled by bus to Varanasi, 160 miles away, police said. She met Japanese tourists in the city who helped her contact the Japanese consulate.

An official with Japan's consulate in Calcutta, declining to comment on the particulars of the case, said late Saturday, 3 January, "We are very thankful for the swift action by the police"

A solidarity march for victims of gang rape in India

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Watch BBC journalist Yogita Limaye reporting from Delhi:

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