Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 11am

Second man arrested over rape of five-year-old in Delhi

A second man has been arrested following the rape of a five-year-old girl in Delhi.

Pradeep Kumar was arrested early on Monday morning more than 1000 kilometres away Bihar and was being brought back to Delhi.

The unnamed victim was kidnapped a week ago and locked inside a room and repeatedly raped for 3 days before being rescued by a passer-by in a case which has sparked a fresh wave of protests against how Indian police handle sex crimes.

Her parents had made a police complaint on the day of her abduction but no action was taken.  

Police said questioning of the first man arrested in the case, Manoj Kumar, led them to the second suspect.
Manoj Kumar, 24, was arrested on Saturday in Bihar and has since been flown back to Delhi.  The two men are not related, police say.

They are accused of abducting, raping and attempting to murder the five-year-old, who was found by neighbours who heard her crying in a locked room in the same New Delhi building where she lives with her family.

The girl was alone when she was found, having been left for dead by her attackers, police say.

The girl was in critical condition when she was transferred on Thursday from a local hospital to the largest government-run hospital in the country.

DK Sharma, medical superintendent of the hospital where the girl was being treated, said on Monday she was responding well to treatment and that her condition had stabilised.

"She is much better today and her wounds are healing well," Sharma told reporters.

The attack came four months after the fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus prompted outrage across India about the treatment of women in the country.

On Sunday, for the second consecutive day, hundreds of people protested outside police headquarters in the capital, angry over allegations that police failed to act after the girl's parents told them she was missing.

About 100 supporters of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata party demonstrated outside the home of the chief of the ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, demanding that the government ensure the safety and security of women and girls in the city.

The protesters also demanded that the Delhi police chief be removed from office and that police officials accused of failing to act on the parents' complaint be dismissed.

"Police and other officials that fail to do their jobs and instead engage in abusive behaviour should know that they will be punished," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Police said they detained more than 50 protesters when they tried to break down barricades on the road leading to Gandhi's house. The protesters were released after a few hours.

Police also placed restrictions on gatherings of more than four people on the main avenue in the heart of Delhi after university students said they planned to hold a demonstration there. Despite the police order, about 100 students gathered at the iconic India Gate monument and held a peaceful protest late on Sunday.

Sexual crimes against women and children are reported every day in Indian newspapers, and women often complain about feeling insecure when they leave their homes.

On Sunday, the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, called for changes to attitudes toward women in India.

"The gruesome assault on the little girl a few days back reminds us once again of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity from our society," Singh said at a meeting with civil servants.

The gang rape on a Delhi bus in December sparked outrage and spurred the government to pass tough laws for crimes against women, including the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim's death.

Activists say passing strong laws is not enough, and that the government must ensure that police and the justice system crack down on crimes against women.

"Enacting strong laws are simply a first step, but it needs the government to focus urgently on implementation if it is serious about protecting children and other victims of sexual abuse," Human Rights Watch's Ganguly said.

- Associated Press



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