By Matthias Williams
Indian police arrested a second man in connection with the gang-rape of a journalist in Mumbai, an official said on Saturday, in a case that has drawn comparisons with an attack in December that led to nationwide protests and a revision of rape laws.
News of Thursday’s attack sparked street protests and uproar in parliament and put the spotlight back on women’s safety in India, where memories of the rape and murder of a student in New Delhi last December are still fresh.
Many Indians have questioned whether, despite a toughening of rape laws after last year’s attack, India is any safer. The latest assault was in the financial capital Mumbai, which is generally considered India’s safest city for women.
The 22-year-old victim, a photo journalist, was admitted to hospital where she is in a stable condition. Police have released sketches of three other suspects and say they will ask the government to have the case conducted in a fast-track court.
One man was arrested on Friday in connection with the attack and Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told reporters a second suspect had been arrested.
“He has admitted that he has done wrong,” Singh said, adding that the other suspects may have fled to the city’s suburbs.
The attack took place shortly before sunset in a former industrial district that is now one of the city’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. The woman was at an abandoned textile mill on assignment with a male colleague.
They were separated by the attackers and the woman’s colleague was tied up with a belt while she was assaulted, Singh told a Friday news conference.
Indian TV news channels and newspapers, citing police sources and statements purportedly made by the victim, have disclosed some details of the assault.
According to the Mumbai daily Mid Day, the attackers threatened to slash the victim with a broken beer bottle. They also threatened to reveal her identity if she reported the incident, it reported.
The Times of India on Saturday quoted a statement by the victim from her hospital bed.
“I want no other woman in this city and country to go through such brutal physical humiliation,” she was quoted as saying. “The perpetrators should be punished severely as they have ruined my life.”
Reuters was unable to independently verify those statements. Himanshu Roy, Mumbai’s joint commissioner of police, declined to comment when contacted by telephone.