India in shock over gang rape, murder of 8-year-old girl
The brutal gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in India has triggered nationwide outrage, inflamed communal tensions and shone a fresh critical light on the prevalence of sexual crimes.The killing has sent out the sort of shockwaves that shook the country after the equally horrific gang rape of a Delhi student on a bus in 2012 that made headlines around the world.
That case saw India Gate in New Delhi become the focus of massive public protests, and opposition leader Rahul Gandhi led a candlelight march to the same monument midnight Thursday to highlight what he called the "unimaginable brutality" of the latest killing. The young girl, whose identity was protected by a court order Friday, was murdered in January in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the police charge sheet, she was abducted by a school dropout, a minor, and an accomplice who forced her to take sedatives while keeping her captive in a shed and then a Hindu temple for five days. While in captivity, she was repeatedly raped by the juvenile and different men, including a police constable. She was finally strangled and beaten with a stone, and her body was discovered out in the open in a wooded area. "Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight," Gandhi said at the midnight rally. "India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does," he said.
The victim was from a nomadic Muslim family and all the eight people arrested in the case so far are Hindus. Jammu and Kashmir is India's only Muslim majority state, but the Jammu region in the south, where the murder took place, is Hindu dominated. The case has fuelled the sharp communal divide in the region, with Muslim activists condemning what they see as a crime against their community and some Hindu groups arguing that the accused had been unfairly charged.
-AFP, New Delhi