Protests build in New Delhi after child rape

NEW DELHI Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:19pm IST

1 of 7. A schoolgirl holds a placard during a prayer meeting for a five-year-old rape victim in Jammu April 20, 2013. A five year-old girl was kept in captivity for 40 hours and allegedly raped and tortured in Delhi, police said, reviving memories of a brutal December assault on a woman that shook the country.

Credit: Reuters/Mukesh Gupta

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Angry crowds demonstrated in New Delhi on Saturday after a five-year-old girl was allegedly raped, tortured and kept in captivity for 40 hours, reviving memories of last December's brutal assault on a woman that shook the country.

Police arrested a man they accuse of the attack from Bihar, and brought him back to New Delhi for interrogation. Doctors say the girl suffered severe injuries and bruising, including to her neck and genitalia.

In pictures: Rape of 5-year-old sparks protests in Delhi reut.rs/17a32ED

Protests that began on Friday grew more intense after video footage showed a policeman slapping a woman protester, and following reports that investigators had offered the victim's family 2,000 rupees not to file a case.

It was the second case of alleged rape in 48 hours to trigger protests and heavy-handed policing, after hundreds of people fought police in the city of Aligarh, 135 km (83 miles) from Delhi on Thursday. One policeman was filmed hitting an old woman hard with a club in the protest.

Public fury over the latest attack in the capital echoed the response to the gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus on December 16 in New Delhi, which brought thousands of people onto the streets in protest and clashes with police.

The woman died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital.

The gang rape provoked rare national debate about violence against women, putting the issue onto the political agenda in the nation of 1.2 billion people a year before elections.

On Saturday, about 1,000 people gathered to demonstrate outside the police headquarters in New Delhi, where several people tried to break through metal barricades. Smaller protests erupted outside the state-run hospital where the girl was being treated, the home of ruling Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi, and the residence of the home minister.

The girl was "conscious and alert" and her condition stable, but her injuries are infected and so severe she may need corrective surgery, an official of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital told reporters.

Police identified the accused as a 22-year-old, who they said had fled the capital after leaving the girl for dead in an apartment of the same building where her family lives.

The accused was a temporary worker in garment factories and lived with his father, a juice seller, police said. TV news channels reported that some people tried to attack the man and others threw shoes at him as police led him through Patna airport in Bihar state to board a plane back to New Delhi.

Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat declined to comment on reports that the girl's family had been offered money not to file a case, adding he would only do so after an investigation.

Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the government was conducting an inquiry into allegations of police negligence.

CRITICS SAY TOUGHER LAWS NOT ENOUGH

The girl, whose parents work as labourers and live in a slum in the outskirts of Delhi, went missing from her home on April 15, according to Manish Sisodia, an official of the Aam Aadmi Party, which organised a protest on Friday. Local media said she was found by neighbours who heard her crying two days later.

B.N. Bansal, a doctor from the Swami Dayanand Hospital, where the girl was initially admitted, said on Friday that she had undergone an operation due to severe injuries.

"We found candles and an oil bottle from inside the child when we operated upon her," Bansal told reporters. "The next 48 hours will be crucial for her."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office said in a statement that he was deeply disturbed by the latest incident. In December his administration had faced criticism for failing to respond quickly to the horrific attack on the physiotherapy student.

The unprecedented protests by thousands of people across India eventually forced Singh's government to pass tougher laws to fight gender crimes in March.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures.

However, most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women and children.

Activists said the new laws are not enough to deter sex offenders in India's largely patriarchal societies.

"You need community policing to stop these crimes," activist Kiran Bedi told an Indian TV channel.

The U.N.'s child rights arm, UNICEF, said that tougher laws are no use if they are not enforced effectively.

"The brutal rape case this week unfortunately also indicates the need to strongly improve the response of law enforcement officers," it said in a statement.

(Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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Comments (3)
Anugan wrote:
Decades of women oppression. Not being able to speak up. Police apathy. Denial of Justice. System rot. Sick society. Sad.

Apr 20, 2013 4:46pm IST  --  Report as abuse
abdulmaliktalib wrote:
4 months back, Delhi police commissioner had assured that police was being educated to deal sensitively in case of crimes on women and was intent on preventing all crimes on women. 4 months and a few hundred rapes later, police commissioner has been proved to be what he is. A liar. It is inconceivable why the govt is persisting with this pestilence of an officer under whom the police force has done everything it should not have and omitted to do everything it should have. From maintaining a ‘hafta register’ for running of unauthorized buses to failure to register act on a request to locate a five year old kid and then offering victims parents money to keep mum and saying, be thankful that your child is alive. One may be mistaken for thinking that i am talking about some mafia gang, well it almost is. It is Neeraj Kumars Rape capital police. When one sees his persistent pestilence, one is forced to believe in the ‘bribe the politician for plum posting’ story. 4 months is a long time and Neeraj Kumar has had a long stint as PC delhi. If he has not been able to do anything till now (actually, things have worsened) it is very unlikely that he will do anything in future, near or far. It is best that the govt. cuts its losses by cutting loose this shameless and useless fellow. Not that this will win any votes for the congress, but for at least fixing the responsibility at least for one time before it passes on to oblivion. Neeraj Kumar must go. You can fool people only this much. Go before the people chase you out with shoes and sticks. Go before they start baying for your blood on the streets. Go, while you still can, in one piece.4 months back, Delhi police commissioner had assured that police was being educated to deal sensitively in case of crimes on women and was intent on preventing all crimes on women. 4 months and a few hundred rapes later, police commissioner has been proved to be what he is. A liar. It is inconceivable why the govt is persisting with this pestilence of an officer under whom the police force has done everything it should not have and omitted to do everything it should have. From maintaining a ‘hafta register’ for running of unauthorized buses to failure to register act on a request to locate a five year old kid and then offering victims parents money to keep mum and saying, be thankful that your child is alive. One may be mistaken for thinking that i am talking about some mafia gang, well it almost is. It is Neeraj Kumars Rape capital police. When one sees his persistent pestilence, one is forced to believe in the ‘bribe the politician for plum posting’ story. 4 months is a long time and Neeraj Kumar has had a long stint as PC delhi. If he has not been able to do anything till now (actually, things have worsened) it is very unlikely that he will do anything in future, near or far. It is best that the govt. cuts its losses by cutting loose this shameless and useless fellow. Not that this will win any votes for the congress, but for at least fixing the responsibility at least for one time before it passes on to oblivion. Neeraj Kumar must go. You can fool people only this much. Go before the people chase you out with shoes and sticks. Go before they start baying for your blood on the streets. Go, while you still can, in one piece.

Apr 20, 2013 12:13am IST  --  Report as abuse
CommunalAward wrote:
Caste system rolled-out sadists/savages in India for the past 3000 years. It’s only going to get worse in the future.

Caste system is worse than terrorism. It’s a slow poison which has destroyed India.
You’re are naive if you think streets are safe for your women in India.

Apr 21, 2013 5:37pm IST  --  Report as abuse
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