A five-year-old Indian girl is battling for her life after being kidnapped and brutally raped over two days by a 22-year-old neighbour in New Delhi.
RN Bansal, chief of the Swami Dayanand Hospital where the girl was admitted, said on Friday that her condition was "critical" and objects were removed from her body.
Describing it as a "barbaric sexual assault", Bansal said the injuries on the girl's body suggested that the rapist tried to strangle her and left her to die.
Doctors said the girl's genital area had been mutilated and that objects had been inserted inside her, causing serious internal injuries and infection.
The child was reported missing on Monday and was rescued after someone heard her cries on Wednesday. She was later admitted to the hospital.
The girl's father alleged that the police had offered the family a bribe of 2,000 rupees ($37) to "keep quiet".
They [police] were reluctant to register our complaint [that she was missing] when we approached them the first time. Then the police asked us to be content with the fact she was at least found alive.
He also accused the police of being insensitive in their investigation.
"They were reluctant to register our complaint [that she was missing] when we approached them the first time," the father of the girl said.
"Then the police asked us to be content with the fact she was at least found alive."
Family members, neighbours and activists staged protests outside the hospital, raising slogans against the police and authorities.
Female activists condemned the spiral of crimes against women and demanded the immediate arrest of the accused who is on the run.
Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said an investigation would look into allegations of police inaction and bribery. The police lodged a case of rape and attempt to murder.
"We initially registered a case of kidnapping. We have now launched a preliminary inquiry into rape and attempted murder," Bhagat said, adding a hunt was on to catch a family neighbour who is the main accused.
The incident comes just months after India was shaken by the horrific gang-rape of a student in Delhi on a bus last December that triggered countrywide demonstrations and debate over the status of women and girls and their safety.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a late night statement said he was "deeply disturbed" over the rape of the child, calling it a "shameful incident", and asked society "to work to root out the evil of rape and other such crimes".
He also voiced anger over police treatment of some women who demonstrated against the incident, saying it was "completely unacceptable".
Local media reported a policeman was suspended after repeatedly slapping a young protester.