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Apr 20, 2013 at 10:49pm IST

Delhi: Angry crowds take to the streets over minor's rape as govt assures action

New Delhi: Protesters took to the street in the national capital on Saturday, demanding justice for the 5-year-old, who was brutally raped, assaulted, nearly killed and kept captive by a man in east Delhi, bringing back memories of the events that unfolded after the rape of a 23-year-old woman.

Angry crowds demonstrated outside police headquarters, despite the arrest of the arrest of the main accused, Manoj Kumar, much like the December 16 gangrape when protests shook the nation and forced the government to implement a new set of anti-rape laws in March. The minor rape survivor, in this case, however, has battled on with her injuries, unlike the Delhi braveheart who succumbed after the brutal assault in Singapore on December 29.

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Doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said the girl was alert, stable and was interacting with her parents. They added that she is responding to the treatment well but was still under close observation. Her wounds would be re-dressed on Sunday and she will also need corrective surgery, doctors said.

Her case also attracted the attention of the Home Ministry and several political leaders, who expressed anguish and demanded stringent action against the accused. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office said in a statement that he was deeply disturbed by the latest incident. In December, his administration had faced criticism for failing to respond quickly to the horrific attack on the physiotherapy student.

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad visited AIIMS to meet the rape survivor even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran LK Advani expressed shock at the incident. Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj called for death penalty in child rape case and said "a sickness has seeped in the mentality". "Action and not words, required to check incidents like this heinous rape of a five-year-old," said Sonia Gandhi. President Pranab Mukherjee said he was "deeply anguished at the incident of the rape of a five-year-old child."

Vice President Hamid Ansari also expressed outrage at the brutal rape of the five-year old child. "We must ensure that the best possible medical treatment is provided to the little one. Apart from bringing the perpetrator of this heinous crime to justice expeditiously, it is critical for all of us to reflect on why these barbaric acts keep recurring in our midst. We need to collectively work towards urgently changing the regressive mindset vis-a-vis our womenfolk prevalent in our society. Else, our heads would continue to hang in shame and we will lose our right to be called a civilized, progressive society," he said.

ALSO SEE Delhi minor rape: Prime accused arrested in Bihar; survivor stable

However, most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women and children. Activists said the new laws are not enough to deter sex offenders in India's largely patriarchal societies. "You need community policing to stop these crimes," activist Kiran Bedi said.

On Saturday, about 1,000 people gathered to demonstrate outside the police headquarters in New Delhi, where several people tried to break through metal barricades. Smaller protests erupted outside the state-run hospital where the girl was being treated, the home of ruling Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi, and the residence of the Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

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Police identified the accused as 22-year-old Manoj Kumar who they said had fled the capital after leaving the girl for dead in an apartment of the same building where her family lives. The accused was a temporary worker in garment factories and lived with his father, a juice seller, police said.

He fled to Bihar's Muzaffarnagar but was traced by the Bihar Police and was later sent back to Delhi. Kumar was apprehended from Chiknouta, his in-law's village, at around 2:00 am from Muzaffarpur, about 50 kms from Patna. He abducted, brutalised, raped and attempted to murder the 5-year-old for four day in east Delhi's Gandhi Nagar area.

ALSO SEE Sonia Gandhi meets Delhi rape victim at AIIMS

the accused was traced after tracking his mobile phone location, police sources said. Kumar had married recently and his wife had come to her parent's place two days back. The accused, working as labourer in Delhi, is a native of Bharphua village of the district.

Kumar allegedly raped five-year-old girl at his rented accommodation. The girl and her family stayed in the same building where Kumar lived. Delhi Police has registered a case and slapped charges of kidnapping, sexual assault, attempt to murder and unnatural sex on Kumar.

The girl is now under the supervision of a team of specialist doctors from paediatric surgery, paediatric medicine, gynaecology, urology, forensic medicine and anesthesia at the paediatric surgery department since Friday evening. Doctors have also performed colostomy procedure to divert stool, and surgical dressing of her perineal injuries.

They have planned re-evaluation of perineal wounds and re-dressing under anesthesia for Sunday evening. Earlier, doctors said that her condition was stable though she had suffered serious injuries in the assault. She has been put on IV fluid and antibiotics.

(With Additional Inputs From PTI and Reuters)

Map showing locations of Delhi anti-rape protests

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