The family members of a 35-year-old Dalit woman in Churu district of Rajasthan have alleged that policemen gangraped her and held her illegally in custody for eight days, The Indian Express reported on Sunday. Police officials said the woman’s brother-in-law was arrested on July 6 in a theft case and died in custody the same night.

However, the woman’s husband presented a different version of events. “On June 30, police picked my 22-year-old brother in a theft case,” he said. “On July 3, they came with him but when they took him back the same day, they took my wife too. Later, on the night of July 6-7, police tortured and murdered my brother. My wife, who witnessed the torture, was gangraped by police. They also plucked her nails, hurt her eyes and fingers.”

The man added that even after the death of his brother, the police kept his wife forcibly in custody till July 10. The woman was admitted to a hospital in Jaipur on July 11, after which the family members submitted a memorandum to the police authorities demanding action.

“We have decided to register a case on the basis of her claims and get it investigated by the Crime Branch,” Additional Director General of Police (Crime) BL Soni said. He said that the woman’s statement was being recorded.

The Rajasthan Department of Personnel issued an order late Friday night, removing Churu Superintendent of Police Rajendra Kumar Sharma. Sharma had suspended one head constable and six constables, as well as the station house officer of the concerned police station, following the death in police custody.

“Local police say that on the evening of July 6, police went to his village and arrested him [the alleged thief],” Additional Superintendent of Police (Churu) Prakash Kumar Sharma said. “Those posted at police station have claimed that around 1.45 am, he fell sick, and after he was taken to hospital, the man died at 2.15 am.” He said that no chargesheet was filed in the case, and the autopsy showed death due to cardiac arrest.

Prakash Kumar Sharma also contradicted the family’s claim that the man was picked up on June 30, asserting that he was rounded up on July 3, and released the same day, before being arrested three days later. The officer also said that the police came to know of the allegation of rape only after the woman had been admitted to hospital.