Indian schoolgirls hold candles as they pray for the speedy recovery of… (Ajit Solanki / Associated…)
NEW DELHI -- Several hundred people protesting the kidnapping and rape of a 5-year-old girl descended on police headquarters Saturday, waving signs, overrunning barriers and calling for the resignation of the capital city’s police commissioner.
The angry demonstration, which spread to a hospital and the homes of two senior officials, was reminiscent of the outcry seen after a 23-year-old student was brutally raped in December, a crime that shook the nation and leading to tougher laws and the creation of special courts for rape cases.
Police on Saturday arrested Manoj Kumar, 22, who had reportedly fled to the central impoverished state of Bihar following the attack on the 5-year-old. Authorities said he was being returned to New Delhi to face rape, kidnapping and attempted murder charges. He reportedly lived in the same building as the young victim.
Public anger has been directed at police who reportedly offered the youngster’s family $40 to keep quiet and told them they were lucky their child was alive. Video also showed a policeman slapping a female protester.
Sushil Kumar Shinde, India’s Home minister, said an official inquiry would consider allegations of police negligence.
According to police and local media reports, the 5-year old, from an impoverished blue-collar family, went missing Monday evening while playing in front of the building where her family lived in a New Delhi slum.
Police said the girl was taken to another apartment in the building, attacked, strangled and left for dead before neighbors heard her cries some 40 hours later.
The suspect, who was reportedly recently married, was said to work as a laborer in a garment factory and lived with his father, a juice seller. He fled after the alleged attack to his in-laws’ home town in Bihar and was apprehended with the help of cellphone records.
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Tanvi Sharma in the New Delhi bureau contributed to this report.