An Indian man holds a poster while participating in a candle-lit vigil Dec. 31 to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India.(Photo: Dar Yasin AP)
NEW DELHI -- A bone test is being conducted to confirm the
age of a juvenile suspect in custody for the murder and gang-rape of a
young woman, while prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the other
five men arrested with him, police said Tuesday.
will be formally charged in court on Thursday on accusations that they
kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered the 23-year-old woman on a moving bus
in the capital New Delhi, police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told reporters.
Media reports say some 30 witnesses have been gathered and
the charges have been detailed in a document running into more than
1,000 pages. Outraged Indians have been demanding the death penalty for
the six men, holding demonstrations almost every day since the Dec. 16
Murder is punishable by death and rape by life
imprisonment. But juveniles - those below 18 years of age - cannot be
prosecuted for murder.
Another police officer said a bone
test is being conducted to determine if the youngest suspect in the case
is indeed a juvenile. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to disclose sensitive information.
The brutality of this case has made Indians confront the reality
that sexual violence is deeply entrenched in the society. Women face
daily harassment, from groping in buses to rapes at homes. Often police
refuse to accept complaints by victims and even blame them for inviting
unwanted male attention by dressing provocatively.
have paid scant attention to it largely because people are inured to
such cases. Activists hope that the savage assault on the young woman, a
physiotherapy student, will change that. She and a male companion were
attacked when they got into an off-duty bus in southern New Delhi to go
back home. The six men, including the bus driver, took turns to rape
her and beat her with an iron bar which they also inserted in her body
causing severe injuries to her organs.
The woman was
airlifted to Singapore for emergency treatment but died on Saturday. She
was cremated in New Delhi on Sunday, and the ashes were to be submerged
in the holy river Ganges near her hometown in the northern Uttar
Pradesh state in accordance with Hindu customs.
and politicians from across the spectrum called for a special session of
Parliament to pass new laws to increase punishments for rapists -
including possible chemical castration - and to set up fast-track courts
to deal with rape cases within 90 days.
Indians have lit candles, held prayer meetings and marched through
various cities and towns to express their grief and demand stronger
protection for women and the death penalty for rape, which is now
punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment. The protests continued on
On Monday, the Indian army and navy canceled their
New Year's celebrations, as did Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling
Congress party. Several hotels and clubs across the capital also did not
hold their usual parties.