UK & World News

  • 30 December 2012, 17:10

Gang Rape Victim Cremated In New Delhi

The body of a woman who was gang raped on a bus in New Delhi has been cremated at a private ceremony held amid tight security.

The 23-year-old medical student was savagely beaten and raped for almost an hour before being thrown out of the moving vehicle.

She was transferred to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for specialist treatment, but later died from severe organ failure.

Her body was flown back to India from Changi Airport with her parents, who were at her bedside when she was pronounced dead.

At the brief cremation ceremony in the southwestern Dwarka district of the city, the funeral pyre was lit after relatives and friends said their final prayers.

According to several mourners, the student was due in February to marry her boyfriend, who was injured in the same attack.

"They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi," Meena Rai, who had been shopping with the victim for wedding outfits, was reported as saying.

The funeral took place just hours after police said the six accused of murdering the student could face the death penalty if convicted.

Sky's India Correspondent Alex Rossi said: "The general thinking behind it as far as the prosecution service is concerned is that the way she was treated on that bus, the manner in which she was subjected to such a brutal attack, the fact that she was thrown from the bus whilst it was still moving and was unconscious suggests that they're fairly confident now that there was pre-meditation in the attack."

Her uncle has called for those responsible to be given the "strictest possible sentence".

"This is a very sad day, and a very very sad happening," he said. "My condolences are with my niece's family."

Sonia Ghandi, the president of India's National Congress, has promised to fight for change.

She said: "(The death) strengthens our resolve to fight with all our might, and all the powers of our laws and our administration, for the safety and protection of all women of our country, and to ensure swift and fitting punishment for the perpetrators of such brutal acts."

More than 1,000 protesters gathered in New Delhi city centre for a sit-in, demanding political change to protect women from violence.

Thousands more took part in a candlelight vigil.

The area is home to the president's palace, the prime minister's office and key defence, foreign affairs and home ministries.

Authorities feared a repeat of demonstrations a week ago, where police fired tear gas and water cannon at activists after violence broke out.

Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said: "We have booked all six accused under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

"It is a non-bailable offence which carries the death sentence."

Formal charges are expected to be filed by January 3.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was deeply saddened by the woman's death and described the reaction to the case as "perfectly understandable from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change".

"It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channel these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action," he added.

After boarding a bus on December 16, the student was attacked by the men who took turns raping her and assaulted her with an iron bar before they threw her off the moving vehicle.

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