Six men have been arrested after kidnapping and raping a female bus passenger in the northern Indian state of Punjab. The arrests come after a similar New Delhi gang-rape case where the victim died from her injuries, triggering nationwide protests.
The victim was kidnapped after boarding a bus on January 11 to go to her in-laws’ house in a village in Gurdaspur. The bus passed through the woman’s bus stop and continued on to Gurdaspur town.
From there the driver and the conductor forced the woman on to a motorcycle and took her to an unknown location, where five more men joined them and raped the victim.
"The lady, after being kidnapped, was raped brutally throughout the night by the seven accused," officer Raj Jeet Singh told AFP.
Then one of the rapists dropped the woman off near her sister-in-law’s village from where the victim managed to walk home.
The woman reported the incident a day later by lodging a complaint at the Kahnuwan police station.
"Six men have been arrested on allegations of having raped a 29-year-old woman… after forcibly taking her to an unknown location on the night of January 11," Singh said, adding that they were searching for the seventh suspect.
Those arrested include the driver and the conductor. All six have already confessed to their crime, Singh said.
The extent of woman’s injuries is unclear.
The attack comes in the wake of a similar case when on December 16 a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and severely injured on a bus in Delhi, while her male companion was cruelly beaten. Both were then stripped and thrown off the bus, after which the rapists tried to run the woman over, but her male companion managed to push her out of the way.
She later died from her injuries in hospital, triggering a wave of national protests.
Tens of thousands came out on the streets of India to demand tougher measures from the government to protect women from the daily threat of harassment and violence.
Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Indian women applied for firearm licenses and joined self-defense classes.
In response to public uproar, India’s ruling Congress Party is drafting the new legislation for submission to the Justice Verma Committee, charged with reassessing current rape laws and suggesting changing them to ensure greater safety for women.
The document stipulates a maximum jail sentence of 30 years for those convicted of rape and the introduction of chemical castration as a punitive measure, writes the Indian Express.
Additionally, the Indian government heard calls from the Bharatiya Janata Party to hold an emergency parliamentary session to discuss women’s safety.
New Delhi, with a population of nearly 17 million people, has the highest number of reported sex crimes of all India's cities. The number of reported rape cases in the capital has risen since 2011 to 17 per cent, with 661 last year, government figures revealed. According to police statistics, a rape is reported on average every 18 hours, and a sexual assault occurs every 14 hours in the capital.
However victims of rape often do not come forward to the police in India for fear of shaming their families or being ignored by police, skewing the statistics.