IN yet another savage rape-and-murder story reminiscent of the 2012 Nirbhaya case, a young woman from Haryana state in north India was abducted and raped before being brutally murdered by her captors.
Assailants allegedly smashed the 23-year old woman’s skull with bricks and crushed it under the wheels of a vehicle. Her body was discovered in an open field on the outskirts of Rohtak town, some 70km from the Indian capital of New Delhi, partially eaten by stray dogs, local media reports say.
The Business Standard reported two men, including the victim’s stalker neighbour, have been arrested since the Saturday incident. Six others are being investigated. Huffington Post India, quoting police, said forensic experts confirmed the woman was sexually assaulted before she was killed.
SK Dhattarwal, head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Rohtak, said the woman’s body also indicated her genitals had been mutilated.
The report said police were told the victim’s head and face were smashed with a hard object and crushed under the wheels of a vehicle. This, said the authorities, was to hide the woman’s identity.
According to Reuters, the woman, a labourer, was taken by the men – at least one of whom knew her – by car from her home in Sonipat to Rohtak, where they raped her. When she said she would report them, they “hammered her skull in with bricks”, Superintendent of Police Ashwin Shenvi told the wire agency.
“The way they brutalised her is horrific.”
The woman reportedly went missing on May 9, according to a complaint filed by her family. Her neighbour, identified in reports as Sumit, had in the past tried to force her into marrying him, but she refused. It has been alleged he planned the rape and murder to teach her a lesson.
Responding on Sunday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar called the incident “unfortunate” and vowed those responsible would face punishment for their actions, Times Now reported.
Sexual violence against women is a highly-charged issue in India, where the horrific, fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 – the infamous Nirbhaya case – sparked nationwide protests about entrenched violence against women and the failure of authorities to protect them.
In the Nirbhaya incident, the victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, was heading home with a male friend after an evening showing of the movie “Life of Pi” when six men lured them onto a private bus. They then beat the man with a metal bar, raped the woman and used the bar to inflict more internal injuries.
The pair were then dumped naked on the roadside, and the woman succumbed to her injuries two weeks later.
Indian media later named her “Nirbhaya”, which means “fearless” because rape victims cannot be identified under Indian law. Nirbhaya immediately became a rallying cry for tens of thousands in India protesting the treatment of women.
Last Friday, India’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for the four accused in the 2012 case.
Since the Nirbhaya case, India has enacted tougher jail sentences for rapists and promised to try those accused through “fast-track” courts but rape, acid attacks and domestic violence remain common.
Indian media also reported a gang-rape in the city of Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi over the weekend.
On average, 50 crimes against women are reported every day by police in Delhi, including at least four cases of rape, according to a senior official in the federal Home Ministry.
Additional reporting by Reuters