Police make third arrest in Mumbai gang rape case
NEW DELHI |(Reuters) - The police arrested a third man in connection with the gang-rape of a journalist in Mumbai, an official said on Saturday, in a case that has drawn comparisons with an attack in December that led to nationwide protests and a revision of rape laws.
News of Thursday's attack sparked street protests and uproar in parliament and put the spotlight back on women's safety in India, where memories of the rape and murder of a student in New Delhi last December are still fresh.
Many have questioned whether, despite a toughening of rape laws after last year's attack, India is any safer. The latest assault was in the financial capital Mumbai, which is generally considered the country's safest city for women.
The 22-year-old victim, a photo journalist, was admitted to hospital where she is in a stable condition. Police have released sketches of the suspects and say they will ask the government to have the case conducted in a fast-track court.
One man was arrested on Friday in connection with the attack, and Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told reporters a second suspect had been arrested.
"He has admitted that he has done wrong," Singh said, adding that the other suspects may have fled to the city's suburbs.
Police arrested a third suspect later on Saturday, Singh told Reuters via a phone text message, but did not elaborate.
BROKEN BEER BOTTLE
The attack took place shortly before sunset in a former industrial district that is now one of the city's fastest-growing neighbourhoods. The woman was at an abandoned textile mill on assignment with a male colleague.
They were separated by the attackers and the woman's colleague was tied up with a belt while she was assaulted.
"In the 21st-century, I am ashamed that a journalist doing her job has to go through something like this," said Bharatkumar Raut, a Mumbai-born member of parliament in the Rajya Sabha.
"We used to say that Mumbai is the safest city in India. But the life of our citizens - not just women - is becoming insecure," he told Reuters by phone.
Local TV news channels and newspapers, citing police sources and statements purportedly made by the victim, have disclosed some details of the assault.
According to the Mumbai daily Mid Day, the attackers threatened to slash the victim with a broken beer bottle. They also threatened to reveal her identity if she reported the incident, it reported.
The Times of India on Saturday quoted a statement by the victim from her hospital bed.
"I want no other woman in this city and country to go through such brutal physical humiliation," she was quoted as saying. "The perpetrators should be punished severely as they have ruined my life."
Reuters was unable to independently verify the statements. Himanshu Roy, Mumbai's joint commissioner of police, declined to comment when contacted by telephone.
The trials of the four men and one juvenile accused of the December attack are expected to conclude within three weeks. Closing arguments in the trial of the four adult suspects started on Thursday.
Following a public outcry over the Delhi attack, India introduced tougher rape laws in March, which include the death penalty for repeat offenders and for those whose victims were left in a "vegetative state".
(Additional reporting by Vipin Das and Shyamantha Asokan; Editing by Robert Birsel and Hugh Lawson)
Gang rape of photojournalist shocks Mumbai
MUMBAI |(Reuters) - A photojournalist was gang-raped in Mumbai, police said on Friday, evoking comparisons with a similar assault in New Delhi in December that led to nationwide protests and a revision of the country's rape laws.
The attack on Thursday night triggered protests and an outcry on social media, with many users shocked that it took place in Mumbai, widely considered to be India's safest city for women.
One man was arrested on Friday and 20 police teams were pursuing four men who had been identified, said Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh.
"Mumbai police will do its best to collect all the evidence - clinching evidence, scientific evidence - so that a fool-proof case is made out in the court, and they get maximum punishment," Singh said. "We will also request the government that this case be conducted in a fast-track court."
In rowdy scenes in the Rajya Sabha, opposition lawmakers accused the government of not doing enough to protect women, despite tougher sex crime laws brought in this year.
The victim, who is in her early twenties, was admitted to hospital in south Mumbai where she was in stable condition, a hospital official told Reuters by e-mail.
The attack took place shortly before sunset in an abandoned textile mill in Lower Parel, a gritty former industrial district that is now one of the city's fastest-growing neighbourhoods of luxury apartments, malls and bars.
The woman was at the mill on an assignment with a male colleague. The pair were separated by the attackers and her colleague was tied up with a belt while she was assaulted, Singh said.
Several dozen mainly male supporters of the right-wing Shiv Sena political party gathered with flags and banners outside the police station where the case was filed. A further protest was called for later in the afternoon.
Women's safety in India has been in the spotlight this year following the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in New Delhi in December, which led thousands of Indians to take to the streets in protest. The woman died of her injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.
The trials of the four men and one juvenile accused of the December attack are expected to conclude within the next three weeks. The verdict on the juvenile suspect is set for Aug 31. Closing arguments in the trial of the four adult suspects started on Thursday.
Following public outcry over the Delhi attack, India introduced tougher rape laws in March, which include the death penalty for repeat offenders and for those whose victims were left in a "vegetative state".
In contrast to Delhi, Mumbai has long been considered a safer place for women to travel alone, even at night.
"(Mumbai) has this sense of security ... but these things make us feel that maybe we are not really that safe," said A. L. Sharada, director of Population First, a Mumbai-based NGO that works on women's rights issues.
"Women should be able to move freely and take up work. Why should we be worrying about something bad happening to us all the time?"
(Reporting Aradhana Aravindan in MUMBAI and Shyamantha Asokan and Aditya Kalra in NEW DELHI; Writing by Shyamantha Asokan; Editing by John Chalmers)