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 22-year-old woman had been taken to Bodh Gaya, the most sacred site in Buddhism where Gautam Buddha is said to have obtained enlightenment under a tree, by men posing as a tourist guides.
Pallav Kanti Ghosh, a Calcutta police commissioner, told BBC Hindi that two of the men – said to be brothers – had approached the victim at her hotel and said they would take her sight-seeing.
Women in India protest against rape and other attacks on women and girls in the country. “They took her to Digha [a beach resort in West Bengal] on 23 November,” he said. “There they sexually assaulted her and robbed her of 76,000 rupees [£1,200] using her ATM card.”
The woman was taken to Bodh Gaya, the holiest site of Buddhism and a major pilgrimage and tourist centre, where she was allegedly handed over to other gang
She was held captive and repeatedly assaulted for several weeks until she managed to flee on 26 September and reached Kolkata, where she contracted the Japanese consulate.
In late December she managed to reach the city of Varanasi from where she travelled to Kolkata, lodging a complaint via the Japanese consulate on 26 December.
The victim had been living in India while studying rural life.
Indian demonstrators hold candles in honour of a physiotherapy student who was gang-raped and murdered at a protest to mark the one year anniversary of her death in New Delhi on 29 December, 2013. Police reportedly believe that an organised gang is targeting female tourists travelling alone in the area.
Other foreign women targeted by gang-rapists include a Swiss cyclist assaulted in central India in 2013 and a Danish tourist attacked in Delhi a year ago.
In response to international outrage about a series of high-profile rape cases, India has doubled prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalised voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women for the first time.
The law also makes it a crime for officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made.
Additional reporting by AP