India mourns Delhi rape victim

December 29, 2012 - 4:19:17 am

Police officials stand alert behind a barricade covered by a banner calling for capital punishment for rapists, in New Delhi, yesterday.

AN Indian woman whose gang-rape on a bus in New Delhi sparked widespread street protests has died in Singapore after suffering severe organ failure.

Authorities in India have been preparing for the possibility her death could ignite more protests after riot police were deployed on the capital's streets in the wake of the attack amid mounting anger at the daily dangers women face.

The 23-year-old was flown to Singapore on Thursday after she was attacked by six men on a bus in New Delhi on December 16, raped, hit with an iron bar, and thrown from the vehicle.

Some Indian medics had criticised the decision to move her.

"We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4.45am 29 Dec 2012," Kelvin Loh, the chief executive of Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital, said in a statement.

"Her family and officials from the High Commission of India were by her side."


The woman had remained in an extremely critical condition since being admitted to the hospital, Loh said, with doctors mounting a last-ditch battle overnight to save her life.

"She had suffered from severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain," Loh said.

"She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome."

Indian television news channels carried blanket coverage from Singapore after news of the woman's death broke.

The NDTV network ran a ticker-tape headline RIP India's Daughter while the Times Now channel headlined the news Braveheart Passes Away.

India's High Commissioner to Singapore T.C.A. Raghavan said the woman's family was "shattered" by her death.

"The scale of her injuries (was) very great," Raghavan said at the hospital.

"It was was very trying for the family. The girl of course was unconscious... I must say they (the family) bore the entire process with a great deal of fortitude and a great deal of courage."

The body was taken to a morgue, and Raghavan said arrangements were being made for it to be returned to India in line with the family's wishes.

The decision to fly her out of India by air ambulance was taken at a meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet on Wednesday and the government had promised to pay all her medical bills.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the government's only concern was to ensure the victim received "the best treatment possible".

But Indian newspapers suggested the authorities, who have struggled to contain the nationwide protests over the attack, were keen to have her transferred out of the country.

An unnamed doctor who was part of a team of experts consulted about the transfer told The Hindu newspaper they had only been asked whether it was safe to move her and not whether it was the best course of action.

"The question was not whether there were any deficiencies in treatment that would be met by moving her ... She was being given the best possible care," the doctor was quoted as saying.

Samiran Nundy, chairman of the organ transplant and gastro-surgery department of Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told the paper the transfer made little sense.

"I just can't understand why a critically ill patient with infection in blood and body, high grade fever and on the ventilator is being transferred," he said.

Singh has ordered an official inquiry into the gang-rape and new laws to protect women as well as stiffer penalties for the worst sex crimes.

And he said Delhi police would soon launch a drive to recruit more female officers as a confidence-building measure.

The government has also announced plans to post the photos, names and addresses of convicted rapists on official websites to publicly shame them. The campaign will begin in Delhi, which has been dubbed India's "rape capital".

India was rocked by a wave of protests in the week after the attack, prompting authorities to seal off large parts of the capital and to deploy riot police with water cannons and tear gas.

The Delhi gang-rape has shone the spotlight on a crime that occurs on a daily basis in India, with most such assaults taking place in rural areas.

Police said on Friday that a 15-year-old schoolgirl had had her throat slit after being gang-raped in the Pali Muqimpure area of Uttar Pradesh state. A hunt has been launched for three youths after the attack the previous day.


Singapore/New Delhi: Doctors in Singapore yesterday struggled to save the 23-year-old Indian gang rape victim who they said was “fighting for her life” and had suffered “significant brain injury” besides an infection in the lungs and abdomen.

As she battled the odds in Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital, 12 days after being brutally tortured and raped in the Indian capital on the night of December 16, she continued to occupy mindspace back home - for the people and the leadership. 

Congress president Sonia Gandhi joined Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in promising quick justice and saying there would be no Happy New Year greetings for India’s ruling party. 

The young physiotherapy intern needed the prayers and wishes.

Besides a prior cardiac arrest, she also had infection of her lungs and abdomen, “as well as significant brain injury”, Kelvin Loh, Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s chief executive officer, was quoted as saying by the Straits Times newspaper.

“The patient is currently struggling against the odds, and fighting for her life,” he said about the young woman who was taken in an air-ambulance from New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital to Singapore. 

Left virtually for dead with her male friend on the road by the six males who raped her in a moving bus, she was so grievously injured that her intestines had to be taken out. All six have been arrested for the crime, and both Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi promised quick justice. 

“You have my assurance that our government is committed to bringing the guilty to justice as soon as possible,” the prime minister told reporters at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on the occasion of the party’s foundation day. 

Wishing the woman speedy recovery, Gandhi said no time should be lost in punishing those responsible for the crime.

“Our wish is that she recovers and comes back to us... and no time is lost in bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice,” Gandhi said in her first public statement on the incident that has led to searching questions on the status of women in India, the crimes against women and the legal framework to address incidents of sexual assault. 

Gandhi said the party was not celebrating New Year due to the sad event. Manmohan Singh said a panel headed by a former chief justice of the Supreme Court had been set up to suggest changes in the law to make punishment more stringent, and another headed by a former Delhi high court judge to look into the lapses behind the ghastly crime.

Though the prime minister said she was being given the best possible medical care, a section of the medical community in the Indian capital said there was no logic in moving her to Singapore when she was in such a precarious condition.  “I can’t understand the logic behind it, or rather it is unusual to transfer the girl from Delhi to Singapore when the patient has suffered a cardiac arrest, as I have been informed by the media,” Samiran Nundy, chairman, department of surgical gastroenterology and organ transplantation, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said.IANS