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Scorn heaped on police in India over rape case

School children and staff take part in a self-defense training program at a school in Mumbai, India, on Friday, Jan. 4. AP

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By The Associated Press
Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

NEW DELHI — The companion of a woman who was gang-raped aboard a moving bus in India's capital said Friday that after being attacked for 2 12 hours, the pair was thrown on the side of the road, where passersby ignored them and police debated jurisdiction issues before helping them.

The male companion, who has not been named, made the comments in a TV interview, the first time he had recounted details of the Dec. 16 attack in New Delhi.

The attack has outraged Indians and led to calls for tougher rape laws and reforms of a police culture that often blames rape victims and refuses to file charges against accused attackers. The nation's top law enforcement official said the country needs to crack down on crimes against women with “an iron hand.”

The 23-year-old woman died last weekend from massive internal injuries suffered during the attack. Authorities charged five men with her murder and rape and were holding a sixth suspect believed to be a juvenile. A hearing in the case was scheduled for Saturday.

The woman and her companion had just finished watching the movie ‘‘Life of Pi” at an upscale mall and were looking for a ride home. An autorickshaw driver declined to take them, so they boarded the private bus with the six assailants inside, the companion told the Indian TV network Zee TV.

Authorities have not named the man because of the sensitivity of the case. The TV station also declined to give his name, although it did show his face during the interview. The man has a broken leg and was sitting in a wheelchair during the interview.

After a while, the men on the bus starting harassing and attacking the pair, he said.

‘‘I gave a tough fight to three of them. I punched them hard. But then two others hit me with an iron rod,” he said. The woman tried to call the police using her mobile phone, but the men took it away from her, he said. They then took her to the rear seats of the bus and raped her.

‘‘The attack was so brutal I can't even tell you ... even animals don't behave like that,” the man said.

The men then dumped their bleeding and naked bodies under an overpass.

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