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Man arrested in India over rape of child

Neighbour taken into custody as five-year-old girl is left fighting for her life in New Delhi hospital.

Last Modified: 21 Apr 2013 14:46
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An arrest has been made following the brutal attack on a five-year-old Indian girl who was kidnapped and raped over a two-day period.

The child's 22-year-old neighbour, who police have accused of the attack, was captured in the eastern state of Bihar on Friday.

He had fled to Bihar after leaving the girl for dead in an apartment in the same Delhi building where the family lives.

The accused, who is called Manoj, was a temporary worker in garment factories and lived with his father, a juice seller, police said.

He was hiding at his in-laws' house when he was captured.

Resignation demanded

The attack has sparked protests in the capital, reviving memories of last December's fatal gang rape that shook the nation.

Protesters gathered outside the police headquarters in New Delhi, chanting anti-police slogans and trying to climb the barricades.

Protester Piyush Shukla said they were angry about the government's inaction and called for the resignation of the capital's police commissioner.

"We want Neeraj Kumar to immediately resign as the police commissioner of Delhi. He is not meant for the position that he currently holds," he said.

"Months ago, when a 23-year-old girl was gang raped, Sonia Gandhi had given lengthy speeches saying strict action would be taken, however, nothing has happened."

A group of student protesters also gathered outside the official residence of Interior Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and chanted anti-government slogans and vandalised police barricades.

'Barbaric assault'

RN Bansal, chief of the Swami Dayanand Hospital where the girl was admitted, said on Friday that her condition was "critical" when she was brought in, and objects were removed from her body.

Latest reports said the girl was stable, but her injuries are infected and so severe she may need corrective surgery, an official of the state-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital told reporters.

Dr D K Sharma, one of the doctors treating the girl, said: "At present her general condition is stable; she is recovering and continues to be under close observation and monitoring.

"She is speaking to her parents. Revaluation of her perineal wounds and redressing is planned to be done under anesthesia tomorrow evening.

"She is recovering well."

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.

Insensitive police

Allegations that the police had offered the family a bribe of 2,000 rupees ($37) to "keep quiet" contributed to the growing anger of protesters who gathered in the Indian capital.

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.

Father of the rape victim

The father 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.

Protests grew even more intense after a policeman was filmed hitting an old woman hard with a club in the protest.

‘Shameful incident’

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 man 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.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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