The 36-year-old father of six turned himself into police last week and confessed to strangling his neighbour after the man allegedly admitted raping the 14-year-old.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police he acted after discovering that his daughter was pregnant.
According to the police report, the teenager told her father she had been raped by the family’s trusted neighbour and tenant, who had threatened to kill her if she told anyone. A doctor’s report confirmed the assault, according to police.
“I was shocked because we treated the tenant just like our family member. He breached my trust,” police quoted the father as saying.
Rapes frequently go unpunished in India, where cases can take years to come to court, and victims often face social stigma.
At the family’s dilapidated home in a poor area of New Delhi the teenager stood beside her mother, a dazed look on her face, as relatives and neighbours queued to offer their sympathies.
Distraught, the mother told AFP her husband was a gentle man.
“I only had the chance to see him briefly and he told me he wanted to warn potential rapists that they can never escape justice,” said the 32-year-old as she wiped away tears.
Most of those present fully supported the father’s actions.
“We totally sympathise with the family. What is the fault of this young girl or the father? The rapist deserved this kind of treatment,” said next door neighbour Rani Devi, as others nodded in agreement.
Sex crimes have been under the spotlight in India since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012.
Four men were convicted and handed death sentences last year while a fifth died in custody of apparent suicide. None of the others has yet been executed.
The case led to tougher laws to deter rapists, although there are still frequent reports of attacks.
The father, who made around 200 Indian Rupees ($3.2) a day selling burgers on a hand-cart, told his wife he had that case on his mind.
“He said the convicts in the (December 2012) case were yet to be hanged. He felt our daughter may never get justice, so maybe that’s why he decided to take things in his own hands,” she said.
According to the police report, the girl’s father confronted the tenant, becoming enraged when he showed little remorse.
“He then attacked the tenant, gagged and strangled him. After that, he heated a steel spatula on the stove and burned the man’s genitals,” investigating officer Arvind Pratap Singh told AFP at the local police station.
Cradling her youngest son in her lap, the victim’s mother appealed to the authorities to “take a lenient view and have mercy on my children”. Her husband remains in police detention.
But Singh said that while he felt sympathy for the accused, he had to do his duty.
“In my 20 years of police service, I have never come across such a case,” he said.
“The first instinct of anyone who commits a crime is to run away. But this man walked into the police station on his own and calmly narrated the sequence of events.
“As a fellow human being, I have sympathy for the father and the family. But as a police officer, it’s my duty to follow the law.” -AFP