Woman arrested in connection with rape of teenager in India


Activists called for protests across India over the weekend, demanding justice for an eight-year-old Muslim girl who was gang-raped and murdered in the divided state of Kashmir, and another rape case involving a ruling party lawmaker.

"We have put our best teams in place with all senior police officials".

The high court in Allahabad city on Friday ordered the arrest of Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a member of the Uttar Pradesh state parliament with the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), after days of popular outrage about the alleged crime, his defiant response and the apparent apathy of local police.

The girl's family - who fought unsuccessfully for almost a year to get the police to register their case - said Singh had taken their daughter to the state legislator on the pretext of a job.

The next day, her father, who had been in police custody, died from injuries he sustained in an alleged beating.

According to the charge sheet filed by the Jammu and Kashmir police in the case, the girl was gang-raped thrice inside a temple in Hiranagar in Kathua. The girl was forced her to take sedatives and during five days in a shed and then a Hindu temple, she was repeatedly raped by the juvenile and different men, including a police constable.

Jammu and Kashmir is India's only Muslim-majority state, but the Jammu region in the south, where the rape and murder took place, is Hindu-dominated.

The case took a communal turn when an outfit called Hindu Ekta Manch was set up by politicians in support of the accused and those arrested by the police.

The protesters, who were backed by state BJP ministers, allege the investigation of the girl, a member of a nomadic Muslim tribe, was biased because some of the officers involved in the case were also Muslim. The victim was Muslim, all eight men arrested were Hindus and some of the investigators are Muslim.

Among those who backed the Hindu outfit are two serving ministers from the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party, Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga.

"All they want is a fair probe and the real criminals to be caught". At the time, the Indian National Congress, now the leading opposition party, was in power, and it was severely criticized for its slow and tone-deaf reaction.

The killing has shaken the country in a way reminiscent of the fatal gang rape of a Delhi student on a bus in 2012 that made headlines around the world.

In a country where 40,000 rape cases are reported every year, campaigners say victims are reluctant to go to the police.

The post-mortem revealed the girl had been strangled and smothered, with 86 signs of minor injuries, including sexual assault, he said.

The girl went missing from near her house in Rasana on January 10 and her body was found seven days later in the forests nearby.

"Can't think straight as more chilling details on little Asifa's case emerge...her innocent face refuses to leave me".

"The body was recovered on April 6 by the side of a highway and, according to a post mortem report, the girl was sexually assaulted and murdered on April 5", Surat's police commissioner, Satish Sharma, told Reuters.

Protests and vigils were held Sunday in some parts of India including Delhi, the financial capital Mumbai and southern Kerala state.

Ms Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, said on Friday that her ministry planned to propose the death penalty for the rape of children younger than 12.