India police arrest suspect over rape of 5-year-old girl

AFP , Saturday 20 Apr 2013

The rape of five-year-old girl in India sparks a new wave of outrage in the country over sexual assault and violence

Indian police on Saturday arrested a man over the brutal rape of a five-year-old girl that has sparked fresh protests against sexual violence in the country.

The child was being treated at a top government hospital in New Dehli and the latest medical bulletin issued late Friday described her as being in a critical condition.

The suspect, 22-year-old Manoj Kumar, was captured in eastern Bihar state after fleeing to his father-in-law's home in a village 70 kilometres (43 miles) from local capital Patna, police said.

Police accused the garment factory worker of repeatedly attacking the child inside a locked room over 48 hours after abducting her Monday in a lower-middle class area of New Delhi.

"It is the act of a monster," senior Patna police official Ravindar Kumar told AFP, saying the suspect was booked on charges of rape, attempted murder and illegal confinement, and that he would be returned to New Delhi to face trial.

Newspapers splashed the attack, which comes just four months after the gang-rape and death of a young woman shook India, on their front pages with headlines such as "Delhi shamed again" and "Depraved Delhi".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement late Friday he was "deeply disturbed" over the rape, calling it a "shameful incident", and asked society "to work to root out the evil of rape and other such crimes".

The child, who had last been seen when she went outside to play, was found after people heard her cries.

Injuries to her neck suggested her attacker may have tried to strangle and left her to die, according to R.N. Bansal, one of the doctors who treated her.

Doctors said the girl was mutilated during the attack, suffering serious internal and other injuries and was also fighting an infection.

The attacker was reportedly a tenant in the victim's house.

The assault sparked new public outrage over crimes against women and children reminiscent of protests that swept the capital in December after a 23-year-old student was savagely gang-raped by six men and died nearly two weeks later.

"We want justice," shouted demonstrators gathered outside New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital where the child was being treated.

Protesters were angered by reports that police, who have been under heavy public pressure to reduce the number of rapes, were reluctant to register the case and offered the father money to forget the assault.

Though rapes and sexual harassment have been commonplace in India, since the December rape there has been an outpouring of criticism of the treatment of women in Indian society and violent sex crime.

The city has a burgeoning population of at least 16 million and has long had a reputation of being the country's "rape capital" as it records the highest number of rapes annually.

In 2012 there were around 700 rapes reported in New Delhi, a 23 percent rise from the previous year, police said.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party attacked the police department, saying speedy action could have prevented the attack.

If the investigating officers "had done a good job in finding the child, then possibly this brutality could have been avoided", BJP's Smriti Irani told the Times Now television station.

India's Information Minister Manish Tiwari called for renewed "soul searching" over why women are ill-treated in India.

In wake of the December gang-rape, India's parliament last month approved a new bill toughening punishment for sex offenders. 

Short link: