Twenty-two suspects have been detained after a six-year-old girl was brutally raped and had her throat slit in New Delhi.
The attack happened on Saturday in Badarpur district on the outskirts of the Indian capital.
The incident came only days after the sexual assault of a five-year-old girl in the same city triggered a huge public outcry and calls for capital punishment for all rapists.
Family members said the girl went to the public toilet for her daily bath but they were soon informed by locals she was lying in a pool of blood.
“The girl used to go for a daily bath in that public toilet. She also went today,” said Jitender Kumar Jha, a relative of the victim.
“After some time people came to our house to tell us that the girl is lying in the toilet with injuries on her neck.
“When we went, we saw her lying on the ground with a slit throat and she was naked.”
The police were quick to seal the crime scene and detained 22 suspects with past criminal records in the region.
“We have rounded up 22 suspects. They are alcoholics and drug addicts, who have some past criminal record,” said Ajay Chaudhary, a commissioner of police.
“All of them are being questioned. Soon we will identify the culprit and he will be arrested.”
Severe neck injuries
The girl was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences trauma centre, where she underwent emergency surgery.
Viplav Mishra, who operated on the victim, confirmed wounds to her genitalia and said her neck injuries were severe enough to confirm an attempt to murder the child.
“The girl had an incised wound on her neck showing that someone tried to slit her throat with a sharp object,” Mishra said.
“It was a very deep wound, her wind pipe was just saved, we could see the windpipe and deep structure inside.
“The neck muscle was also damaged. There were four to five incisions.
“I had to take out a segment of skin to repair the damage. It was a long and tedious process.
“Fortunately she has survived and I think that after the sexual assault, there was also an attempt to murder the child.”
Last December, public outrage over the fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi forced the government to pass a new, tougher law to punish sex crimes and hold police and hospital authorities more responsible.
Brutal sex crimes are common in India, which has a population of 1.2 billion, and UNICEF says one in three rape victims in India are children.
New Delhi alone has the highest number of sex crimes among major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures.