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Indian media: Gang-rape ‘inaction’

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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