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Gang rape stokes outrage in India

Indian policemen inspect the abandoned textile mill where a 22-year-old woman was gang raped in Mumbai India, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013.

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By The Los Angeles Times
Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 9:09 p.m.

NEW DELHI — Police in Mumbai arrested one suspect Friday and started a search for four more in connection with a brutal rape in India's financial capital that sent shock waves across the country, the latest vicious crime against women that has battered the nation's global image and led to deep soul-searching.

In a news conference, Mumbai police Chief Satyapal Singh said that about 6:30 Thursday evening, a photojournalist in her early 20s, accompanied by a male companion, went to photograph an abandoned textile mill for an essay on abandoned buildings in the lifestyle magazine where she interned.

As they approached the site, he said, they were accosted by two men who told them that photography was not allowed on railway property.

Then “the men tied the male friend's hands with a belt,” Singh said. “Two of the accused repeatedly raped the girl, turn by turn. There were only two men at first, they called one more, and then called two more.”

The attackers are believed in their early 20s and living in the area, he said, adding: “It was a very heinous crime.”

The reported details of the attack were similar to a high-profile rape in the capital of New Delhi in December, in which a 23-year old woman was attacked on a moving bus and her male companion assaulted, sparking violent demonstrations, a new law, fast-track courts and more female police officers. The woman died of internal injuries two weeks later in a hospital.

The latest attack was particularly upsetting for Mumbai, India's most populous city, which has long enjoyed a reputation as a place where women can travel safely, even at midnight. New Delhi, by contrast, has been dubbed “India's rape capital.”

News of the Mumbai attack triggered protests, an uproar in Parliament — where opposition lawmakers accused the government of failing to protect women — and outcry on social media.

“Sad validation of the fact that NO city in India is safe for women,” actress Gul Panag, a former Miss India, wrote in a Twitter post.

“Despicable! We are shamed!” added opposition politician Nirmala Sitharaman in another tweet. “How many more before the criminals are punished? Wake up, India!”

Junior Home Minister R.P.N. Singh told lawmakers that the government had asked state authorities for a detailed report on the attack, and recommended that the “harshest” punishment be handed down to anyone found guilty in the case, The Associated Press reported.

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