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Master of Scaremonies
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Indian village elders order trial by boiling oil

Sun Sep 17, 2:59 AM ET

The leaders of a village in the Indian state of Rajasthan ordered 150 men to dip their hands into boiling oil to prove their innocence after food was stolen from a local school, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

In late August the school's principal informed police that rice and wheat had disappeared but no action was taken, the Sunday Express said.

The council, or panchayat, of Ranpur village, 340 km south of state capital Jaipur, then decided to take the law into its own hands.

After 10 days spent trying to identify those responsible, it issued what the paper called the "mediaeval diktat".

The 150 men from Ranpur and two neighbouring hamlets were told to pick a copper ring from a cauldron of boiling oil. The council elders then announced that the 50 who refused the order must be behind the crime. Many are now nursing their burns.

"We would have been ostracised had we refused. Out of fear all of us agreed. This is not the first time this has been done," said one 45-year-old man. He has now testified against the elders, who have been arrested.
 
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