Editor (Asia: South)
MUMBAI — In another shameful incident for women in India, a young photojournalist was gang raped in Mumbai on Thursday evening. The incident triggered an avalanche of outrage across the country on Friday and has been condemned as despicable and shameful, stirring up memories of a similar attack last December in New Delhi that led to nationwide protests.
People from all walks of life have voiced their anguish. Various political parties, media associations and Bollywood have united as one and are demanding strictest of punishments to the perpetrators of the crime in a city that is widely considered to be far safer for women than the national capital.
The attack also created a furore in Rajya Sabha, which erupted in anger with agitated members expressing serious concerns over increasing atrocities on women. The government has assured “harshest” action against the culprits. Union law minister Kapil Sibal said sexual assaults must be dealt with “in the severest manner”. He was quoted saying: “We cannot afford to let our women and children live in insecurity and must make sure that such attacks against women are dealt in the severest manner.”
Hundreds of people including members of several journalists’ associations gathered in Mumbai to stage a silent protest. Some wore black armbands, while others carried placards with messages such as “stop rape” and “city of shame.”
People even sniped at the Union ministry of home affairs and its equivalent in Maharashtra for failing to enhance the safety of women in the country since the Delhi gang rape incident last December and even after the enactment of new laws. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Smriti Irani, while raising the issue during zero hour in Rajya Sabha, questioned what steps have been initiated to prevent recurrence of such incidents even after repeated assurances of improving law and order condition in the aftermath of Delhi gang rape and targeted the Centre and the Maharashtra government.
POLICE ACT SWIFTLY, NAB ONE CULPRIT
The Mumbai Police acted swiftly and on Friday cracked the gang rape case of a young photojournalist, arresting one of the accused within 24 hours of the incident and identifying four others — including two criminals — for whom a massive manhunt has been launched. “We have arrested one of the accused who has named the others involved in the incident. The accused has also confessed to the crime,” Mumbai Police commissioner Satyapal Singh was quoted as saying.
A report, attributed to the police, had said that two accused had been arrested. Congress leader Murli Deora said five suspects have been arrested. “This case has been cracked. Five persons have been arrested and are in the lock-up,” he had said earlier. Singh said more than 20 teams have been pressed into service to track down the perpetrators.
The city police chief declined to divulge the identities of the accused lest the probe in the “extremely sensitive” case gets compromised but said two of them are criminals with offences registered against them. Media reports said a top police officer identified the arrested accused as Mohammed Abdul alias Chand, while he named others as Vijay Jadhav, Qasim Bengali, Saleem and Ashfaq.
When questioned about the condition of the victim — an intern with an English magazine — he said she was “composed and stable”.
The victim has been admitted to Jaslok Hospital. Preliminary reports suggested that she sustained multiple internal injuries. A statement from the hospital said, “The patient is with us after the unfortunate incident since last night. As of now, she is stable and Jaslok Hospital is doing its best.”
Tarang Gianchandani, acting CEO and Director, medical services of the hospital, said, “We are doing the needful … she is under strict observation.”
Singh said a forensic team has also been pressed into service.
(with inputs from agencies)
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons (Nilroy (Nilanjana Roy))