By Saurabh Sharma
LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) - Indian police have arrested an officer accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after she went to him to report her gang rape, an incident that sparked outrage in a country notorious for assaults on women.
The head of a rural police station in Lalitpur, a district about 580 km (360 miles) south of New Delhi, the capital, was among four people arrested on Wednesday, a state police official said.
"Strict action will be taken against those found guilty," Prashant Kumar, a senior police officer, told Reuters on Thursday.
"The rape survivor has been admitted to the district hospital for treatment."
Reuters could not contact the accused officer to seek comment, as he is in custody.
The incident only came to light this week after the victim, a teenager from the lowest rung of the Hindu caste system, managed to file a complaint with the police.
In her complaint, she said she had been gang raped by four boys who took her to a neighbouring state on April 22, but escaped from them a few days later and went to the police station on April 27, where she was raped again.
Politicians and activists demanded urgent steps to protect women.
"If police stations are not safe for women, then where will they go with their complaints?" asked Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a senior leader of the main opposition Congress party.
India adopted the death penalty in 2018 as a punishment for the rape of girls younger than 12, in response to public pressure after a spate of assaults on children.
That followed the gang rape of a young woman in a moving bus in the capital in 2012 that caused national uproar and brought new laws, though the number of assaults on women stayed high.
Nearly 32,000 rapes or attempted rapes were reported in India in 2020, the government's most recent crime data shows.
(Reporting by Saurabh Sharma in Lucknow; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)