NEW DELHI – A young photojournalist was gang raped while her male colleague was tied up and beaten in an isolated, overgrown corner of India's business hub of Mumbai, police said Friday. The case was reminiscent of the December gang rape and death of a young university student in the Indian capital that shocked the country.
The attack took place in Lower Parel, a onetime textile-manufacturing neighborhood of south Mumbai that over the past decade has changed dramatically. Today, upscale malls, trendy restaurants and super-luxury condominiums sit side-by-side with abandoned textile mills and sprawling slums.
Police said the woman was on assignment to take pictures of the neighborhood Thursday evening when five men confronted her and her colleague. After initially offering to help her get permission to shoot inside a crumbling, isolated building, they became aggressive and accused the male colleague of being involved in a local crime.
When he denied involvement in the crime, they tied his hands with a belt and took the woman to another part of the compound and took turns raping her, Mumbai's Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told reporters. The attack took place at about 7 p.m. on Thursday.
On Friday, police arrested one suspect in the attack and he had named and identified the other four men, Singh said. While police have released sketches of the four men, Singh would not give their names or other details, saying authorities did not want to give them any warning that they were being sought. Singh said the men may have been local drug dealers.
The woman, 22, is in stable condition in a hospital. Police declined to say who the woman was working for at the time of the attack.
The assault comes amid heightened concerns about sexual violence in India. The gang rape and death of the student on a bus in New Delhi in December had shaken a country long inured to violence against women and sparked protests demanding better protection for women.
In response, the government passed a stringent law increasing prison terms for rape and making voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women punishable under criminal law.
The attack was discussed in India's Parliament, where junior Home Minister R.P.N. Singh told lawmakers that the government had asked the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, for a detailed report on the attack.
Singh, the home minister, said the federal government had recommended that the "harshest" punishment be handed down to anyone found guilty in the case.