Lady Dies in Delhi After Gang Rape, Fueling Outrage Once more in India

NEW DELHI – A teenage boy from a north Indian village who was pulled from a field and raped by a group of men died of her injuries in a hospital in New Delhi on Tuesday and broke up again after years of what experts call gang rape nationwide outrage from epidemic in India.

The 19-year-old woman, whose naming is prohibited under Indian law, was rushed to hospital just the day before, two weeks after she was raped and mutilated by men of higher castes near her village in Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh state said her family.

Hathras police chief Vikrant Vir said four men had been arrested for rape and murder. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that according to a Twitter post from Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh’s top elected official and leader of the Bharatiya Janata party, Mr. Modi should take “toughest measures” against the attackers.

Justice is unlikely, however: of the tens of thousands of rape cases reported annually in India, only a handful result in law enforcement, according to figures from the National Crime Records Bureau. Activists say the real extent of the problem is far worse, as many cases are never reported due to the stigma of sexual violence in India.

When action is taken against suspects, it is often through vigilante groups or police officers acting out of court, in murders that are usually widely lauded but also indicate the inability of the justice system to deal with rampant sexual violence.

The woman was Dalit, the lowest caste in India’s Hindu hierarchy. On Tuesday, hundreds of demonstrators from the Bhim Army, a party that campaigned for Dalit rights, crowded into the Delhi hospital, where the woman was treated and clashed with police.

A leader of the Bhim army, Chandrashekhar Azad, called on Dalits across India to take to the streets to demand that the attackers be hanged.

The 19-year-old woman was cutting grass to feed the family’s five milk buffalo in Hathras when she was taken away by a group of upper-caste men on September 14, according to her brother Satender Kumar.

Her tongue was cut and her spinal cord was broken after being pulled by a rope by her neck, said Mr. Kumar. He said the arrests came after days of complaining to the police. His sister was initially treated in a hospital in Uttar Pradesh before she was taken to New Delhi.

Uttar Pradesh Prime Minister Mr Adityanath said in another tweet that a special investigative team had been formed to take the case and that a report would be delivered within a week.

After the woman died in the New Delhi hospital, her body was returned to Uttar Pradesh, where police confiscated her body early in the morning on Wednesday and had her cremated without a family, allegedly to try to keep the case quiet. Mr. Kumar said.

“They took the body by force, attacked family members and burned my sister herself that night,” he said. “The police did not allow us near the cremation site.”

Hathras police did not immediately comment on the family’s allegations. But District Judge Praveen Kumar Laxkar told reporters on Wednesday that it was not true that family members were not allowed at the cremation.

Dalits – formerly known as “Untouchables” – are particularly vulnerable to caste discrimination, and Dalit women are selected for sexual assault thousands of times a year, according to human rights organizations.

In India, gruesome reports of rape, often followed by retaliation when victims or their families speak out, have become painfully familiar. Whether a rape report rises above the noise to get a national notification is often determined by class and caste dynamics.

The shocking rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in 2012, which later resulted in her death, sparked a nationwide protest with demonstrators calling for reform. But the country’s overburdened judicial system continues to move slowly. Four men convicted in the 2012 case were hanged in late 2019 after exhausting their appeals.

The police murder of four suspects in the alleged rape of a 27-year-old veterinarian in the southern state of Hyderabad last year has been widely welcomed as a swift bypass of the Indian judiciary.

Swati Maliwal, head of the Delhi Commission for Women, went on a hunger strike outside Mahatma Gandhi’s mausoleum in New Delhi last year, calling on lawmakers to pass legislation to force the courts to stop the executions of rapists within six months to carry out after their conviction.

On Wednesday, Maliwal said in a public statement that the Hathras case “embarrassed the entire nation” and that she had written to the Chief Justice of India’s Supreme Court “to plead justice for the girl.”

The teen’s death this week followed a series of worrying rape reports in India as the country struggled with the coronavirus pandemic. In one case in the southern state of Kerala, an ambulance driver is accused of raping a Covid-19 patient while she was being hospitalized. In August, the mutilated body of a 13-year-old was found in a sugar cane field in Uttar Pradesh near the border with Nepal. In July, a 6-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped in the southern state of Madhya Pradesh. and their eyes were badly injured to prevent them from identifying their attackers.

According to the latest data from the Government of India, the police registered 33,658 rape cases in 2017 – an average of 92 per day and a 35 percent increase from 2012, when fast rape courts were introduced. About 10,000 of the reported victims were children.

Hari Kumar reported from New Delhi and Emily Schmall from Chicago.

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