A five-year-old girl was battling for her life in India's capital New Delhi yesterday after being kidnapped and raped in the city.
Police said the minor was attacked inside a locked room over a 48-hour period after she was abducted while playing outside her home in a modest Delhi neighbourhood.
She was admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital on Wednesday and doctors said her condition was critical.
“The girl was traumatised when she was brought to us. There were injuries to her lips, cheeks and chest wall. There were bruises on her neck,” Dr RN Bansal, chief of Swami Dayanand hospital, told the NDTV news channel.
Other hospital doctors said the girl’s genital area was mutilated and objects had been inserted inside her causing serious internal injuries and infection.
“We are keeping her under constant observation. The next few hours are going to be critical,” Dr Bansal said.
The five-year old was rescued by a passerby who heard her wailing and alerted the police.
The victims' parents, however, accused the police of being insensitive towards their daughter. "They [the police] were reluctant to register our complaint that she was missing when we approached them the first time," the girls' father said.
“Later they told us that we should be ‘content’ with the fact she was at least found alive,” he added.
Police insensitivity in sexual crimes is endemic across India.
"We initially registered a case of kidnapping. We have now launched a preliminary inquiry into rape and attempted murder" Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said.
He added that they were looking for a neighbour of the victim who they suspect of having committed the crime.
Meanwhile, scores of protesters gathered outside the hospital where the child was admitted and shouted abuse at the police for failing to properly investigate her disappearance.
Women's rights activists condemned the incident, saying the injuries inflicted on the girl were shocking.
"This incident shows what kind of brutes we have in society. Society is also responsible for this. It has become full of perverts," said Ranjana Kumari of the Delhi-based Centre for Social Research.
In a separate incident police yesterday said they were looking for a group of men who allegedly gang-raped a 19-year-old woman late Wednesday night.
They said the woman, who works as a domestic helper, was offered a lift in a car by the men and then allegedly sedated and repeatedly raped.
These horrific crimes come just four months after India was shocked by the gang-rape of a student in a moving bus in Delhi, which triggered countrywide demonstrations and debate over the status of females and their safety.
The 23-year old woman succumbed to her injuries 13 days after the brutal assault.