A middle-aged Dalit woman was assaulted and stripped before being paraded through the streets of her village by her sons and other relatives in Gaya district of Bihar.

Sonma Devi, who happens to be a ward member of Ladu panchayat under Mohanpur police station of the district, has been admitted to Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College Hospital in Gaya with injuries all over her body. An FIR has been lodged in this connection against nine persons of the village, including three of her sons, who had allegedly tortured her. The district SP has ordered probe into the incident by Sherghati DSP.

Sonma, who is a resident of Lalganj village, told police that she was beaten up with sticks and stripped by her tormentors who paraded her through the village on Wednesday. They also abused her and snipped her hair.

Sonma, who happens to be a widow, said that her sons and other relatives were trying to usurp her property. She said that none of her villagers came forward to rescue her while she was being humiliated and harassed by her sons and others. In her complaint, the poor woman named three of her sons – Dilip Paswan, Chhotu Paswan and Sandeep Paswan – along with six others – Ramji Paswan, Pintu Paswan, Gautam Paswan, Munni Kumari, Muniya devi and Kamla Devi – for their involvement in her assault and humiliation.

The matter came to light when the Women’s Helpline under the Social Welfare department of the state government received her complaint. It subsequently asked the women’s police station to lodge an FIR and take necessary action on the basis of Sonma’s statement.

Local police officials said that the matter was being investigated and stern action would be taken against those, including her sons, who had perpetrated atrocities on Sonma.

Villagers said that Sonma was a poor woman who was eking out her livelihood by preparing meal for school children under the mid-day meal project. They said that her sons had also cast aspersion on her character and driven her out of their house.

They said one of her sons who lived in Surat in Gujarat had come to the village recently. His relatives had complained to him about his mother’s character, saying they had ostracised her because of her behaviour. This angered her son who joined hands with his brothers and relatives ‘to teach her a lesson’.

Sonma, however, said that they had all ganged up to usurp her property and had levelled baseless allegations against her. She sought help and protection from the district administration.

Bihar has witnessed a slew of incidents of crime against women in recent times. At a meeting, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday had asked all the SPs and DIGs to quickly respond to all the crime cases, especially those against women, in their respective areas.