Journalists stage a protest against the gang-rape of a female colleague in Mumbai, at the Mahatma Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad yesterday.
MUMBAI: Mumbai police arrested a third suspect late yesterday over the gang-rape of a photographer -- an attack that has renewed anger over India’s treatment of women.
Five men are alleged to have raped the woman, in her early 20s, in the centre of the Indian financial hub where she was on a magazine assignment with a male colleague on Thursday evening.
The attack brought back memories of the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December that sparked nationwide protests.
Officers arrested the first suspect on Friday and a second arrest was made overnight, police spokesman Satyanarayan Choudhary said.
Late yesterday, police said they had arrested a third suspect after being told his whereabouts by one of the other accused.
“The probe is heading in the right direction and the other accused will be arrested soon,” Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh told reporters.
“The police have all the evidence against the accused and a comprehensive charge sheet will be filed against them.”
Earlier yesterday, one of the suspects was remanded in custody after appearing in court. His grandmother told media he was only 16 and should be tried as a minor. Police initially said he was in 20s.
The young woman, reportedly an intern, was taken for treatment at Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital, where staff said that she was in stable condition with internal and external injuries.
“The patient’s condition is much better today. However, we are monitoring her health from all aspects of care,” Dr Tarang Gianchandani, director medical services at Jaslok Hospital, said in a statement.
The attack, which dismayed a city seen as far safer for women than the capital, sparked outrage on social media sites, uproar in the Indian parliament and protests in Mumbai and elsewhere.
Sonia Gandhi, president of India’s ruling Congress party, added her voice to the concerns yesterday, saying she was “saddened and pained” over the case.
“It is a heinous crime,” she told reporters in the capital.
A front-page editorial in the Mumbai Mirror said the latest attack “only reaffirms Mumbai’s rapidly declining safety record and its decaying moral core”.
“While we may still believe that Mumbai is a safe city for women, today that belief lies badly bruised,” it said.
The local Mid-Day newspaper, under the headline “Real change needed”, said the challenge was “to build society that looks at women as equal citizens”.
The incident comes eight months after a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped by five men in a moving bus in New Delhi, while her male companion was beaten up. She died two weeks later from severe injuries.
A trial is in its final stages in that case, which sparked massive protests and led to a tougher rape law.
The Mumbai gang-rape took place in the abandoned Shakti Mills compound next to a fashionable area of apartment and office blocks, shops and restaurants.
The victim and her male colleague were approached by members of the group and told they should not be there, after which the man was tied up with a belt and the woman was raped repeatedly nearby, police commissioner Singh told reporters.
Police had released sketches of the suspects to the public and said more than 20 teams, including 10 from the elite crime branch, were involved in the hunt.
Asked about the claim that one of the suspects arrested was a juvenile, the commissioner said: “We will tell you about the profile, age and other related things once the other accused have been arrested.”
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan told India’s NDTV news that the attack was “incredibly horrid”.
“This is a city that prides itself on women feeling secure -- this breaches all social norms... something is going wrong with us,” he said.
Since the December incident, dozens of rapes of Indian women and foreign tourists have been highlighted in the media.
India was forced confront the reality that women are often blamed for crimes committed against them due to the country’s conservative culture, forcing many to keep quiet and discouraging them from reporting attacks to authorities. Activists say passing new, strong laws is not enough, and that the government must ensure that police and the justice system respond swiftly and efficiently to crimes against women.