Six charged with murder after rape victim dies
Six suspects held in connection with the rape of a women in India have been charged with murder after she died of injuries sustained in the attack, police said.
The suspects in the rape - five men, including two brothers, aged between 20 and 40, and a 15-year-old - were arrested within hours of the attack.
"They have been charged (with murder)," said Rajan Bhagat, a spokesman for New Delhi police.
India braced for a new wave of protests following the woman's death, prompting a security lockdown in New Delhi and an acknowledgement from India's prime minister that social change is needed.
Indian authorities deployed thousands of policemen, closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in the heart of New Delhi, where demonstrators have converged since the attack to demand improved women's rights.
Despite efforts to cordon off the city centre, more than 1,000 people gathered at two locations. Some protesters shouted for justice, others for the death penalty for the rapists.
The 23-year-old medical student, severely beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday for specialist treatment.
The intense media coverage of the attack and the use of social media to galvanise the protests, mostly by young middle-class students, has forced political leaders to confront some uncomfortable truths about the treatment of women in the world's largest democracy.
Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say that successive governments have done too little to ensure the safety of women.
"The need of the hour is a dispassionate debate and inquiry into the critical changes that are required in societal attitudes," prime minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement.
"I hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to help us all reach the end that we all desire - making India a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in."
The Indian government has chartered an aircraft to fly the student's body back to India, along with members of her family, T.C.A. Raghavan, the Indian high commissioner to Singapore, told reporters today.
The body was taken from the hospital to a Hindu undertaker in Singapore and hours later, lying in a gold an yellow coffin selected by Indian diplomats, the body was driven in a hearse to the airport.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. In Hyderabad, in southern India, a group of women marched to demand severe punishment for the rapists. Protests were also held in the cities of Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.
"For some reason, and I don't really know why, she got through to us," well-known columnist Nilanjana Roy wrote in a blog today.
"Our words shrivelled in the face of what she'd been subjected to by the six men travelling on that bus, who spent an hour torturing and raping her, savagely beating up her male friend."
Sonia Gandhi, the powerful leader of the ruling Congress party, directly addressed the protesters in a rare broadcast on state television, saying that as a mother and a woman she understood their grievances.