Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Student's rape 'symbolic' of others

31 December 2012, 12:18

New Dehli - One of hundreds of attacks reported in New Delhi each year, the brutal gang rape and murder of a young medical student in a private bus this month caught authorities and political parties flat-footed, slow to appreciate it had become symbolic of all the others.

In the moments before the December 16 attack, the 23-year-old woman from India's urban middle class, who had recently qualified as a trainee physiotherapist in a private Delhi hospital, and her male friend, a software engineer, were walking home from a cinema at a shopping mall in south Delhi, according to a police reconstruction of events.

A bus, part of a fleet of privately owned vehicles used as public transport across the city of 16 million, and known as India's "rape capital", was at the same time heading toward them.

Earlier that day, it had ferried school students but was now empty except for five men and a teenage boy, including its crew, police said.

Most of the men were from the city's slums.

One of the six - all now charged with murder - lured the couple onto the bus, promising to drop the woman home, police have said, quoting from an initial statement that she gave from her hospital bed before her condition deteriorated rapidly.

A few minutes into the ride, her friend, 28, grew suspicious when the bus deviated from the supposed route and the men locked the door, according to her statement.

They then taunted her for being out with a man late at night, prompting the friend to intervene and provoking an initial scuffle.

Raped for nearly an hour

The attackers then beat him with a metal rod, knocking him unconscious, before turning on the woman who had tried to come to his defence.

Police say the men admitted after their arrest to torturing and raping the student "to teach her a lesson".

At one point, the bus driver gave the wheel to another of the accused and dragged the woman by the neck to the back of the vehicle and forced himself upon her.

 The other five then took turns raping her and also driving the bus, keeping it circling through the busy streets of India's capital city, police said.

The woman was raped for nearly an hour before the men pushed a metal rod inside her, severely damaging her internal organs, and then dumped both her and her friend on the roadside, 8km from where they had boarded it, police said.

Robbed of their clothes and belongings, they were found half naked, bleeding and unconscious later that night by a passerby, who alerted the police.

Role model

The woman, whose identity has been withheld by police, gave her statement to a sub-divisional magistrate on December 21 in the intensive care unit of Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital, according to local media reports. She was undergoing multiple surgical procedures and her condition later began to rapidly worsen.

Ten days after the attack and still in a critical condition, she was flown to Singapore for specialist treatment.

She died in Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital two days later.

Her body was flown back to Delhi and cremated there on Sunday in a private ceremony.

Family members who had accompanied her to Singapore declined to speak to reporters, but relatives told the Times of India newspaper she had been a role model to her two younger brothers.

Unlike most traditional Indian families who only send their sons to fee-paying colleges or universities, her parents pinned their hopes on the daughter and took loans to fund her studies.

She was born and brought up in a middle class Delhi neighbourhood after her family moved to the city more than 20 years ago from India's northern Uttar Pradesh state.

Her male friend recorded his statement to a local court days after the attack and helped police identify the six accused.

He left for his hometown in Uttar Pradesh late on Saturday, missing the woman's funeral, local media reported.

Shame, anger in slum

Four of the accused, all in custody, live in the narrow by-lanes of Ravi Das Camp, a slum about 17km from the woman's home in southwest Delhi.

Inside the slum - home to some 1 200 people who eke out a meagre living as rickshaw pullers and tea hawkers - many demanded the death penalty for the accused.

"The incident has really shocked all of us. I don't know how I will get my children admitted to a school. The incident has earned a bad name to this place," said Pooja Kumari, a neighbour of one of the accused.

Girija Shankar, a student, said: "Our heads hang in shame because of the brutal act of these men.

They must reap what they have sown."

The house of one of the accused was locked, with neighbours saying his family had left the city to escape the shame and anger.

Meena, a 45-year-old neighbour, said she had wanted to join the protests that followed the rape, but was too scared.

"You never know when a mob may attack this slum and attack our houses. But we want to say we're as angry as the entire nation.

We want them to be hanged," she said.

Two of the six alleged assailants come from outside Delhi, according to police.

One is married with children and was arrested in his native village in Bihar state and the other, a juvenile, is a runaway from a broken home in Uttar Pradesh.

In India, murder is punishable by death by hanging, except in the case of offenders aged below 18.

Additional reporting by Suchitra Mohanty; Editing by Mark Bendeich and Ian Geoghegan

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Jayne Zack
I am in ODM to stay, Busia Depu...

Busia Deputy Governor Kizito Wangalwa told Deputy President William on the face that he was in the Orange Democratic Movement to stay. Read more...

Boda Boda operators in Bahati rai...

Motorbike Boda Boda operators from Bahati Sub county on Tuesday took to the streets of Nakuru’s CBD lamenting over what they term is harassment by patrol police officers in the area. Read more...

Submitted by
Gabriel Ngallah
Human Rights activist lives in fe...

The Human rights fraternity in Mombasa is currently living in fear after the home of one of the vocal human rights champion was invaded on Monday night. Read more...

Submitted by
kel wesh
Poisonous milk powder siezed by K...

The Kenya Revenue Authority has seized two containers with illegal milk powder which had been declared as gypsum board at Mombasa port. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Be ready for protests, Raila warn...

Expect protests if meddling with Auditor General continues, Raila Odinga has said. Read more...

Submitted by
Kenya says will return to interna...

Kenya will return to international markets to borrow when it feels the time is right, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said on Tuesday. Read more...