NEW DELHI — Protesters have taken to the streets in the Indian capital following the reported brutal rape of a five-year-old girl, who remains hospitalized with severe internal injuries. India's prime minister and president have expressed shock and anguish at the crime, which comes just four months after a similar incident rocked the country.
Indian police on Saturday say they have arrested 22-year-old Manoj Kumar who had fled to the neighboring state of Bihar after allegedly kidnapping, raping and torturing the young girl.
The five-year-old was reported missing from her New Delhi home on April 15 and found three days later. The accused is reportedly her neighbor.
The deputy commissioner of police for the city’s East District, Prabhakar, told reporters police are still getting information and are not sure if anyone else was involved.
He said, “she was locked in a room for at least 40 hours and that during initial questioning, the suspect told police he thought the girl was dead and left.”
The police official would not comment on allegations made by the girl’s parents that police were not responsive to her disappearance and allegedly offered roughly $40 to keep the matter quiet.
Since Friday, protesters have been gathering outside police headquarters in New Delhi and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences where the girl has undergone surgery for severe injuries in her genital and intestinal areas.
“At present, her general condition is stable and she has been under close observation and monitoring," said B.K. Sharma, the medical superintendent at the hospital. " She has been put on IV fluids and antibiotics. She is alert and all her parameters are within normal limits. Definitive corrective surgery will need detailed planning and it will decided after her infection is controlled.”
The incident comes after the December 16 brutal gang rape of a student onboard a bus in New Delhi. The 23-year-old later died of her injuries, sparking massive demonstrations, the implementation of fast-track courts to try crimes against women, and the passing of tougher laws.
Still, reports of such rapes continue in the Indian capital, leaving many activists to ask whether enough is being done.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday issued a statement saying that as “a society, we must introspect at the erosion of values and our repeated failure to ensure the security of our women and children.” He adds that society must identify the causes and find solutions for “such criminal depravity.”