India: Male friend of gang-rape victim breaks silence over murder

Witness alleged that he was ordered by police to say that they were doing a good job in the case

The man who was beaten in the savage assault that ultimately killed a 23-year-old female student claimed last night that it took police two hours to take them to hospital after they were abandoned by their attackers.

The only witness in the gang-rape case that has shocked India said that he and his companion were driven around Delhi for two-and-a-half hours on a bus with its lights turned off. The pair were beaten with metal bars before being left by the roadside. 

He suggested the attackers had “laid a trap for us” and said: “Apart from the driver and the helper, [the] other [attackers] behaved like they were passengers. We even paid 20 rupees as a fare. They then started teasing my friend and it led to a brawl. I beat three of them up but then the rest of them brought an iron rod and hit me. Before I fell unconscious, they took my friend away.

“Before throwing us off the bus, they snatched our mobiles and tore off our clothes in order to destroy any evidence of the crime. After throwing us off the bus, they tried to mow us down but I saved my friend by pulling her away. We were without clothes. We tried to stop passers-by. Several auto-rickshaws, cars and bikes slowed down but none stopped for about 25 minutes. My friend was bleeding profusely. But instead of taking us to a nearby hospital, [the police] took us to a hospital that was far away. Even [there] we were made to wait and I had to literally beg for clothes.”

The woman eventually died in a hospital in Singapore after being flown there for treatment from Delhi. On Thursday, five men were charged with gang-rape and murder, offences that could carry the death penalty. A sixth male allegedly involved in the attack has at this stage been judged to be a juvenile and is scheduled to be dealt with by a different court, despite demands from the victim’s family that he too should face execution. The five older men are due to be brought before a specially established fast-track court today.

The victim’s friend, speaking to India’s Zee News, alleged that he was also ordered by police to  say that they were doing a good job in the case.  “Why did they want to take credit for doing their duty? If everyone does their work well, nothing more needs to be said in the matter,” he said.

“When I had met my friend in the hospital, she was smiling. I never felt that she did not want to live.”

He said he only discovered the full extent of the attack on her when she gave a statement: “I couldn’t believe what they did to her. Even when animals hunt, they don’t mete out such brutality to their prey. She faced all of this and told the magistrate that the accused should not be hanged but burnt to death.”

He hopes the death of the woman will spark change in India: “People should be allowed to have faith in the system. She has awakened us. If we can carry on this fight with her name, it would be tribute to her.”

The news came as  details emerged from the state of Bihar about a woman who was in a critical condition after jumping from a train after allegedly being molested by a paramilitary soldier. The 25-year-old from Darjeeling was travelling to Delhi on Thursday when the man tried to molest her. She is currently being treated in a hospital in the city of Patna. A member of the Assam Rifles paramilitary force has been detained and charged charged over the incident.

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