A second man has been arrested in the gang-rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai as police promise swift justice for a crime that has renewed public outcry over sexual violence in India.
The 22-year-old Indian woman is in stable condition after being repeatedly raped by up to five suspects in a deserted textile mill while her male colleague was tied up and beaten.
Police in Mumbai have launched a huge manhunt after the attack.
In an incident that has triggered comparisons with the fatal assault on a 23-year-old student and her male friend in Delhi last year, police said the 22-year-old woman had been on assignment when she was attacked in an abandoned textile mill.
Police said that the attack happened at around 6.30 on Thursday evening after the woman went to the Shakti Mills area to take photographs for a feature about tenement housing for an English-language magazine. She had been accompanied by a friend.
The incident has triggered an outcry, as Mumbai, India’s financial capital, is traditionally considered safer for women then Delhi and the north of the country. Mumbai police have stated that, from now on, female journalists on assignment by themselves would be offered protection.
“It is very shocking. Nothing of this kind has happened for a long time,” said Flavia Agnes, a social activist with the Mumbai-based group, Majlis. “Mumbai is one of the safest places in India.”
The Press Trust of India said the young woman had given a statement to the police in which she said five males started making lewd remarks and harassing her. When her friend intervened, two assaulted him. Three others then took the woman inside the abandoned building and raped her.
“The victim had gone along with her friend to the Shakti Mills to take some photographs. It was evening. And, there the two boys ... and three more men came, who then raped her,” said Satyapal Singh, the commissioner of the Mumbai police.
Officers said they had detained and questioned up to 20 men as part of an ongoing investigation. At Friday lunchtime, they announced they had arrested one of the men they believe had carried out the attack.
“We have arrested one of the suspects who has named the others involved in the incident. The suspect has also confessed to the crime,” Mr Singh told a press conference. “The police prepared sketches based on the statement of the victim and the witness and made an arrest.”
Police said the young woman had been taken to the city’s Jaslok hospital. Reports said she had sustained several internal injuries but was in a stable condition.
The head of the hospital, Dr Taran Gyanchandani, said: “We are doing the needful ... she is under strict observation. At the moment we can’t say anything.”
The home minister of the state of Maharashtra, Raosaheb Ramrao Patil, visited the woman on Thursday night. “This is a very serious matter. We have taken note of it. The accused will be arrested soon,” he told reporters outside the hospital.
Binalakshmi Nepram, a women’s rights and anti-violence campaigner originally from Manipur in the north-east of India, said a woman was raped in India every 20 minutes. She stated the incidence of gang-rape was increasing and called on the government to declare the situation a “national security crisis”.
“It’s not just happening in Delhi and Mumbai, it’s happening all over India, in small villages and towns,” she said.