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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Bail Posted for Mother in Attempted Drowning Case

September 21, 2000

VENTURA — A 40-year-old Indian immigrant accused of trying to drown her two children in Channel Islands Harbor was released from jail Wednesday after her supporters posted $500,000 bail.

Draped in a traditional Punjabi scarf, Narinder Virk wept as she stepped into the visiting area of the Ventura County Main Jail and embraced one of her benefactors.

She thanked supporters and clung to their arms as she shuffled outside the jail for the first time in eight months.

"She's quite nervous," said 66-year-old Nina Singh, a Los Angeles County resident who put up her personal property up collateral to make bail.

Virk was arrested in January on suspicion of attempted murder after an Oxnard resident pulled the fully clothed woman, her 6-year-old daughter and her 9-year-old son out of the water near a boat dock.

She is charged with two counts of attempted murder. Last week, she pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Defense attorneys say Virk, who does not speak English, was an abused wife who snapped after her spouse boarded a plane for India with plans to divorce her.

Virk's case has galvanized members of Southern California's Indian community, for whom she has become a symbol of a battered wife trapped in the rigid values of her culture.

Prosecutors expressed concern Wednesday about Virk's release, saying she has invested nothing to make bail and poses a flight risk.

Virk's trial is set for Jan. 26.

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