UK & World News

  • 23 December 2012, 22:38

India Rape Protests: Reporter 'Shot Dead'

A journalist has been killed in violent demonstrations against sex attacks in India as police failed to contain fresh violence.

A television reporter, 36, was reportedly shot dead when officers opened fire on a protest in Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, over an attack on a film actress.

The star, known as Momoko, was dragged from stage in full public view last week by an armed militant who tried to rape her. She managed to fight him off and fled.

Momoko, also a popular model, has waived her right to anonymity to make a public appeal for her attacker's arrest.

Crowds in Manipur pelted police with stones on Saturday, prompting a curfew to be imposed for parts of the state.

This was relaxed on Sunday but soon a huge crowd assembled again to confront police who opened fire in retaliation, according to police spokesman A. Singh.

A women's rights activist Bala Bedi said: "We want a strong message to be sent that perpetrators of such crimes have no place in our society."

The death of the reporter, who worked for the Doordarshan network, came as separate angry protests over the brutal rape of a young woman were staged in New Delhi for a second day.

Police had tried to ban demonstrations in certain parts of the city after violence on Saturday.

On Sunday, all the routes leading to landmark government buildings were cordoned off and metro stations in the vicinity were closed to the public.

But several hundred protesters managed to breach the cordon around India Gate and braved tear gas and water cannon for the second day in a row.

The case of a 23-year-old student who was gang-raped by six drunk men last week has sparked a public outcry.

Promises by the Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to consider demands for the six suspects to face the death penalty have failed to quell the anger.

Mr Shinde had also vowed on Saturday night that the government would take further steps to keep women safe.

A group of protesters met Sonia Gandhi, the governing Congress party chief, on Sunday to demand a speedy trial of the suspects.

The 23-year-old woman, a physiotherapy student, was attacked by six drunk men when she was travelling on a bus with a male friend.

They took it in turns to rape her and attack her with an iron rod, causing serious internal injuries. She is still fighting for her life in hospital.

Her case has caught the public mood amid dismay at a massive rise in the number of sexual attacks in India.

Government figures show a woman is now raped in the country every 20 minutes after a major rise in assaults.

National crime records show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year were against women.

Delhi has been dubbed the rape capital of India with government figures showing the number of rapes in the city rising 17% to 661 this year.

One of Delhi's most senior police officers has pleaded for an end to the unrest, saying the protests were being "hijacked by hooligans" and insisting that the case against the six suspects was being fast-tracked.

"We have met all the demands of the protesters," Special Commissioner Dharmendra Kumar said.

Sushma Swaraj, a leader of the main opposition Bhartiya Janata Party, called for an all-party meeting to end the violence between protesters and the police.

"Please do not resort to violence. That is not the solution," she wrote on Twitter.

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