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Feb 05, 2013 at 02:38pm IST

Delhi gangrape: Transport minister blames police as trial begins

New Delhi: The blame game in the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedical student inside a bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012 has started with Delhi Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami saying that was the negligence on part of the police and not the state transport department which led to the incident. Goswami wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde almost a week ago blaming Delhi Police for not acting against buses, which were flouting the rules.

Goswami's letter absolves the transport department and says police should have stopped the bus from plying without permit. The bus in which the girl was gangraped and murderously assaulted was used to ferry school students and was not authorised to pick up passengers.

The Delhi Police have faced criticism over the brutal gangrape and also for the handling of the protests against the case at India Gate and rashtrapati Bhawan. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has also been urging that the Delhi Police be brought under the state government.

Sheila Dikshit had last month pushed for a complete change in the training of police personnel. "There is need for change in the training of police personnel. They should be soft spoken and must instill confidence in people," Dikshit had said. She had said that she had proposed the suggestion to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna, under whom Delhi Police came.

Meanwhile, the trial in the case began in a Delhi court after the five accused in the case were charged last week. The trial began on Tuesday after the Delhi Police filed post-mortem and forensic reports with a supplementary chargesheet.

On February 2, the fast-track court in Saket had framed charges against the five accused in the case. The five accused had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges that were read out to them. If convicted, they could face the death penalty. The sixth being a minor will be tried under juvenile laws. On Tuesday, four prosecution witnesses will appear and depose before the court. There are a total of 86 witnesses who have to be examined.

The prosecution hopes to complete examining the witnesses within a month. The list of witnesses include the Delhi braveheart's 28-year-old friend who was with her on the bus where the gruesome crime was committed and also people present along the route of the bus, police officials and doctors who treated the girl.

The five accused have been charged under 13 sections of the Indian Penal Code. The charges framed against the accused include gangrape, murder and destruction of evidence. The charges levelled against 5 accused include - IPC Sec 302 (murder), IPC Sec 376 (gangrape), IPC Sec 377 (unnatural offence), IPC Sec 201 (destruction of evidence), IPC Sec 307 (attempt to murder), IPC Sec 365 (kidnapping or abduction), IPC Sec 396 (dacoity with murder), IPC Sec 34 (common intention), IPC Sec 394 (voluntarily causing hurt), IPC Sec 395 (dacoity) and IPC Sec 120-B (criminal conspiracy). The 23-year-old braveheart's recorded testimony along with the statements of her friend will also be crucial.

All the five men and the 17-year-old juvenile, who is in an observation home, are charged with raping the physiotherapy intern in the bus and also thrashing her male friend. Ram Singh, Pawan, Vinay and Mukesh were arrested within two days of the crime. Akshay and the juvenile were caught December 21. Mukesh is Ram Singh's younger brother. During a court hearing, Vinay, a gym instructor, told the judge he was not involved in the sexual assault but asked that he should be hanged.

The two victims boarded the bus, which was plying illegally, at Munirka in south Delhi on a cold December 16 night. They were also robbed, stripped and thrown out of the bus some 40 minutes later. The incident sparked off outrage in India, with protesters demanding the death penalty for the accused and changes in rape laws. The victim died on December 29 in Singapore and was laid to rest in the national capital the next day.

(With additional information from PTI and IANS)