NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian police arrested a second man on Monday in connection with the rape and torture of a five-year-old girl in New Delhi and parliament was adjourned twice amid an uproar about the crime which has rekindled popular fury at widespread sexual violence.
The anger echoes the response to the gang rape of a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist on a bus on December 16. She later died of her injuries. Protesters are angry authorities have failed to prevent more such crimes.
Police say the child was abducted on Monday last week and kept in captivity by two men in the basement of the building that she lived in with her family. Neighbors say they found her two days later after hearing her cries.
Media reported several other attacks on children over the weekend, including that of a nine-year old girl in the north-eastern state of Assam, who had her throat slit after being gang-raped, TV channels said.
A man was arrested at the weekend for the attack on the five-year-old and is due to appear in a Delhi court this week. The second suspect, in his early 20s, was arrested early on Monday at a relative’s house in the eastern state of Bihar on information received from New Delhi, local police chief Rajeev Mishra said.
“He was arrested about 1 a.m.,” Mishra said. “...Delhi police and local police made a combined effort to arrest him.”
Brutal sex crimes are common in India, which has a population of 1.2 billion. New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures.
But most such crimes go unreported and justice is slow, according to social activists, who say successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women and children.
The December 16 attack brought thousands on to the streets in protest and provoked national debate about the rising number of vicious attacks on women, putting the issue firmly on the national political agenda a year before elections.
Activists planned a fourth day of street action amid heavy security in Delhi after protesters tussled with police and tried to reach the homes of India’s leaders at the weekend. The protesters are calling for Delhi’s police chief to resign.
The five-year-old girl’s name has not been revealed, but media have nicknamed her “Gudiya”, or doll. She has undergone surgery and was in stable condition on Monday, a doctor at the hospital where she is being treated told reporters.
The lower house of parliament was adjourned twice after opposition politicians rushed into the building, some demanding discussion on the rape case. Others were protesting against corruption and other issues.
“Though parliament has recently passed tougher legislation to prevent rapes, the evil has not abated and such incidents are still on the rise throughout the country,” House Speaker Meira Kumar said before the house was adjourned.
The upper house of parliament was due to hold a debate on violence against women in the afternoon.
Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Annie Banerji; Additional reporting by Nita Bhalla; Editing by Nick Macfie