An Indian protester with a slogan painted on his face participates in a demonstration after the alleged rape of a six-year-old girl at a top private school in Bangalore. Picture: Aijaz Rahi

New Delhi -

The semi-naked body of a teenage girl who was allegedly humiliated by village elders for trying to save her father from being beaten, was found near a railway track in eastern India, police said on Wednesday.

Protests were reported from the Dhupguri area of the West Bengal state after the girl's relatives said she had been raped and murdered.

Local police officer D Sherpa said a self-appointed village court had summoned the girl's father on Sunday night and decided he should be punished for defaulting on payments on a tractor he rented from another villager.

"When the girl tried to stop the villagers from thrashing her father, the elders turned on her," Sherpa said. "They allegedly ordered her to spit on the ground and lick it up ... The girl refused and went missing soon after."

Villagers who allegedly harassed the girl said she committed suicide but the girl's uncle said they had threatened her openly. "If she committed suicide, why was she without clothes?" he said to broadcaster NDTV.

Police said that they were waiting for medical reports on the girl's body and that two men had been detained for questioning.

There has been a spotlight on crimes against women and girls in India since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December 2012. Many of the alleged crimes have taken place in villages in rural areas. - Sapa-dpa