India

Indian media: Gang-rape 'inaction'

Police in the Indian state of Haryana on 9 February 2015 announce the arrest of eight suspects in the gang rape and killing of a Nepalese-origin woman Image copyright AP
Image caption Local police have promised to punish any "lapses" in the investigation

The arrest of eight suspects in the gang rape and murder of a mentally ill woman has focused Indian media attention on accusations of police inaction.

The mutilated body of the 28-year-old victim, who was originally from Nepal, was found dumped in a field near a main road in Rohtak district, in the northern state of Haryana, last week.

A post mortem showed signs of a brutal assault, according to The Times of India, including multiple injuries to the victim's lower body, and stones and blades in her stomach.

The eight suspects are all in their 20s and are from a village near Rohtak, police say.

The force's initial response drew criticism, with a spokesman for the opposition Congress party, Randeep Surjewala, accusing police of still being "clueless" five days after the corpse's discovery, Firstpost reports.

Police insist their response to the case was swift, but have promised to punish any "lapses" on the part of officers.

The victim's sister told The Indian Express that she had reporting her sibling missing three days before the body was found, and that police ignored her pleas for an investigation.

"If this was a case of a woman from a higher strata of society, the police would have acted immediately," the unnamed woman - a housemaid - is quoted saying.

A commentary in Firstpost argues that this and similar cases are part of a wider "disturbing pattern" of crimes against poorer women receiving inadequate attention, not just from police, but wider society.

"Two days after her body was recovered, there is no hashtag trending on Twitter pledging support," the paper says. "Perhaps, most of us know too well that the Rohtak victim is not 'one of us'."

Fears for secularism

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court judge has drawn media attention by publicly questioning whether India will remain a secular state in future, in a case relating to religious influence on the country's civil law.

Justice Vikramjit Sen made the comments during a hearing on a petition for Christian ecclesiastical - or canon - courts law to be given jurisdiction in civil and family matters.

"It is a secular country but I don't know how long it will remain so," the judge is quoted saying by The Times of India.

The court said there was a need "to stamp religion out of civil matters", and highlighted honour killings as a possible danger posed by enshrining religious institutions in law, according to The Hindu.

The petitioner had claimed the authorities' non-recognition of canon-law divorces was resulting in some Catholics being falsely accused of bigamy.

New broom

And finally, newspapers are reporting that the price of brooms has shot up in Delhi in anticipation of a possible victory for the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in state assembly elections.

The cost of the cleaning implements has rocketed from around 50 rupees ($0.80) to over 100 rupees as a result of increased demand from activists of the AAP, which uses the broom as its party symbol, DNA India reports.

"Last night, there were some brooms in my shop but now can you spot any?" one shopkeeper tells the paper, with another predicting: "This time broom will sweep the city."

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