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Published: 2013-04-20 11:59:50.0 BdST Updated: 2013-04-20 13:03:21.0 BdST
Protests that began on Friday grew more intense after video footage showed a senior police officer slapping a woman protester, and following reports that investigators offered the victim's family 2,000 rupees not to file a case.
The assault on the girl revived memories of the gang rape by five adult men and a teenaged boy of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus on December 16 in New Delhi.
That woman died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital. The case caused an outpouring of anger in Delhi. While statistically India does not have the world's highest incidence of rape, the frequency and apparent increase in brutal crimes have become a major political issue in the nation of 1.2 billion a year before elections.
On Saturday, a group of men and women kicked and pushed yellow metal barricades at the gates of the police station in an attempt to break through.
The girl was "conscious and alert" and her condition stable, but her injuries are infected and so severe she may need corrective surgery, an official of the state-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital told reporters.
Police identified the accused as a 22-year-old called Manoj, arrested late on Friday in Bihar where he had fled after leaving the girl for dead in an apartment in the same Delhi building the family lives in.
The girl was kept in captivity for 40 hours, police said. The accused was a temporary worker in garment factories and lived with his father, a juice seller, police said. He was hiding at his in-laws' house when he was captured.
In a televised news conference, a Deputy Commissioner said police will seek to establish if more people were involved in the alleged rape after the accused is questioned.
Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the government was conducting an inquiry into allegations of police negligence.
HELD FOR 40 HOURS
The girl, whose parents work as labourers and live in a slum in the outskirts of Delhi, went missing from home on April 15, according to Manish Sisodia, an official of the Aam Aadmi Party which organised a protest on Friday.
Local media said she was found by neighbours who heard her crying two days later.
B.N. Bansal, a doctor from the Swami Dayanand Hospital, where the girl was initially admitted for treatment, said on Friday that the young victim had undergone an operation after she was brought in with extreme injuries.
"We found candles and an oil bottle from inside the child when we operated upon her," Bansal told reporters. "The next 48 hours will be crucial for her."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office said in a statement that he was deeply disturbed by the latest incident. In December his administration had faced criticism for failing to respond quickly to the horrific attack on the physiotherapy student.
The unprecedented protests by thousands of people across India eventually forced Singh's government to pass tougher laws to fight gender crimes in March.
But activists on Friday said the laws were not enough to deter sex offenders in India's largely patriarchal societies.
"If you thought just bringing in a new law will stop crimes, your are wrong. They will reduce, but won't stop. You need community policing to stop these crimes," activist Kiran Bedi told a TV channel.
It was the second case of alleged rape in 48 hours to trigger protests and police brutality, after hundreds of people fought police in the city of Aligarh 135 km (83 miles) from Delhi on Thursday. One policeman was filmed hitting an old woman hard with a club in the protest.
‘HELL HOLES’ OF INDIA
Meanwhile the Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its report, “India’s Hell Holes: Child Sexual Assault in Juvenile Justice Homes” have said that sexual offences against children in India have reached an epidemic proportion and a large number of them are being committed in the juvenile justice homes run and aided by the Government of India.
The report has been submitted in advance to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Ms Rashida Manjoo, who is on an official visit to India from April 22 to May 1, 2013, while ACHR is scheduled to meet the Rapporteur on April 23, 2013.
The 56-page report, citing National Crimes Record Bureau statistics, stated that a total of 48,338 child rape cases were recorded from 2001 to 2011, and India saw an increase of 336 percent of child rape cases from 2001 (2,113 cases) to 2011 (7,112 cases). These are only the tip of the iceberg as the large majority of child rape cases are not reported to police while children regularly become victims of other forms of sexual assault, too.
Among the states, Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest 9,465 cases of child rape from 2011 to 2011; followed by Maharashtra 6,868; Uttar Pradesh 5,949; Andhra Pradesh 3,977; Chhattisgarh 3,688; Delhi 2,909; Rajasthan 2,776; Kerala 2,101; Tamil Nadu 1,486; Haryana 1,081; Punjab 1,068; Gujarat 999 cases; West Bengal 744; Odisha 736; Karnataka 719; Himachal Pradesh 571; Bihar 519 cases; Tripura 457; Meghalaya 452; Assam 316; Jharkhand 218; Mizoram 217; Goa 194; Uttarakhand 152; Chandigarh 135; Sikkim 113; Manipur 98; Arunachal Pradesh 93 cases; Jammu and Kashmir 69; Andanam and Nicobar Island 65; Puducherry 41; Nagaland 38; Dadra and Nagar Haveli 15; and Daman and Diu 9 cases.
Many of the child rape cases take place in juvenile justice homes established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and by the end of financial year 2011-2012, about 733 juvenile justice homes were fully supported by the Government of India under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
“It will not be an understatement to state that juvenile justice homes, established to provide care and protection as well as re-integration, rehabilitation and restoration of the juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, have become India’s hell holes where inmates are subjected to sexual assault and exploitation, torture and ill treatment, apart from being forced to live in inhuman conditions. The girls remain the most vulnerable. It matters little whether the juvenile justice homes are situated in the capital Delhi or in a mofussil town,” stated Suhas Chakma, Director of the ACHR.