Delhi protest over 'sex attack' on seven-year-old girl

There have been violent protests in the Indian capital, Delhi, after a seven-year-old was allegedly sexually assaulted at a school.

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There have been violent protests in the Indian capital, Delhi, after reports that a seven-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at school.

Police used batons to break up angry crowds outside a hospital where the girl had been taken for treatment.

Teachers and security guards at the government school are being questioned over the alleged assault, police said.

The gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus in December sparked protests across India.

Hundreds of people gathered to protest outside the Sanjay Gandhi hospital in the Mangolpuri area of northern Delhi as news of the alleged sex attack in a local school spread.

At the scene

Night has fallen here in northern Delhi and the protest has dispersed. But it may start up again on Saturday.

It broke out spontaneously when the parents of the seven-year-old girl took her to make an official complaint at the local police station and she was taken to hospital. Residents and neighbours then came to know of the allegations of a sexual assault and massed in their hundreds.

This is a relatively poor area of the city with a high number of young and unemployed people. Many came onto the streets. The demonstration was angry and lasted for a few hours - many women were among those gathered. Three large buses were badly damaged as angry local residents pelted them with stones.

There was a lot of rumour-mongering and a lot of uncertainty and agitation. Some are saying that the protest will be repeated on Saturday. But for now the police are out in force.

Protesters attacked buses and pelted police with stones.

Dr Sanjay Kumar, one of those who helped treat the girl, said her injuries were consistent with rape, reports the AP news agency.

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit called the attack "shameful", reports the AFP news agency.

"Rape inside a school is a shocking incident," she said.

The protests came as India's parliament held an angry debate over the rape and murder of three sisters, aged six to 11, in the state of Maharashtra last month.

No-one has been arrested and opposition MPs criticised the slow pace of the investigation.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said one policeman had been suspended for not acting quickly enough after they had been reported missing.

Their bodies were found in a well two days after they disappeared from their school.

The issue of sexual violence against women and girls has been under intense scrutiny in India after the rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus in December led to widespread protests.

Six people deny charges over the case which shocked the nation - five in a specially convened fast-track court.

They face the death penalty, while a juvenile charged this week could be sentenced to three years in a reform facility.

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