NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian police have arrested all five suspects in connection with the gang-rape of a photo journalist in Mumbai last week, a senior official said on Sunday, in a case that has revived uncomfortable questions about women’s safety.
News of the attack on Thursday sparked street protests and uproar in parliament, a reaction reminiscent of the outcry that followed the rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December.
Authorities vowed to get tougher on sex crimes in response to the December rape and police have promised swift and severe justice for those responsible for the latest assault.
The arrests followed a manhunt by 20 police teams who fanned out across Mumbai and beyond to hunt for five young men suspected of carrying out the rape of the journalist in an abandoned Mumbai textile mill.
Sadanand Date, a joint commissioner of Mumbai police, told Reuters that the last two suspects had been arrested, including one detained in the capital New Delhi, hundreds of miles north of Mumbai. New Delhi police declined to comment.
The gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December set off a wave of protests and debate about the safety of women in a society that has remained largely patriarchal despite two decades of accelerating economic growth.
The victim of the Mumbai assault, whose name cannot be disclosed in India for legal reasons, was in a stable condition in hospital where she said she wanted to get back to work.
“Rape is not the end of life. I want strictest punishment for all the accused and want to join duty as early as possible,” the CNN-IBN television channel quoted the victim as saying, in a statement made from her hospital bed.
The woman was on assignment with a male colleague at the mill in Lower Parel, an up-and-coming district in India’s financial capital where trendy bars and offices have sprouted where factories once stood.
The two were separated by the attackers and her colleague was tied up with a belt and beaten while she was assaulted, police said on Friday.
The grandmother of one of the suspects told television channels that her grandson was a minor. One of those suspected of carrying out the December rape in New Delhi is being tried separately in a juvenile court.
India introduced tougher rape laws in March in response to the December attack, and they include the death penalty for repeat offenders and for those whose victims were left in a “vegetative state”.
India has a clutch of powerful women politicians including Sonia Gandhi, the chief of the ruling Congress party and arguably the country’s most powerful lawmaker.
But the realities for many Indian women stand in grim contrast. Statistics show that a woman is raped every twenty minutes in India and discrimination against girls and female foeticide are common.
Editing by Robert Birsel