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Delhi police may seek death penalty for rapists

Last updated on: December 18, 2012 21:06 IST

Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said the Delhi police would write to the Union home ministry for appropriate changes in the law to invoke the death penalty for rapists. Priyanka reports.

Four men have been arrested for allegedly raping and brutally assaulting a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus. The Delhi police says it will invoke the attempt to murder charge against the accused and seek a fast-track trial for speedy justice.

The bus driver, Ram Singh, who, along with six others, allegedly gang-raped the student on Sunday night, was on Tuesday remanded to police custody for five days by a Delhi court to allow his custodial interrogation.

The police told Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal that the other three accused -- Ram Singh's brother Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, an assistant gym instructor, and Pawan Gupta, a fruit-seller -- will be produced in court on Wednesday.

Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Sharma and Gupta were on a 'joy ride' on Sunday night when they crossed the Munirka bus stop where the student and a male friend were waiting for a bus to Delhi's Dwarka suburb.

"Ram Singh shouted that the bus was going to Dwarka and asked the couple to get into it. Once the bus started moving, the men started misbehaving with the girl. Her male friend who protested and tried to save the girl was severely beaten up. The girl tried hard to protect him," Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar told a press conference.

She was raped by Singh and other occupants of the vehicle, which was being driven by Mukesh Singh when the horrific incident occurred. The young woman and her friend were brutally assaulted and dumped near the Mahipalpur flyover, Police Commissioner Kumar said.

The Delhi police, he added, will seek a fast-track trial for the case on a day-to-day basis so that the accused are punished as soon as possible.

The police commissioner said the maximum punishment for such a crime was life in prison, but the Delhi police would write to the Union home ministry for appropriate changes in the law to invoke the death penalty for rapists.

The police is likely to slap the attempt to murder charge against the accused.

Kumar said the bus, which is primarily a school bus, was being used for commercial purposes illegally by the driver.

While Ram Singh, Sharma and Gupta were arrested from the capital, Mukesh Singh was arrested in Rajasthan.

The bus was located in Sector 3 of the capital's R K Puram area on Monday evening and impounded immediately.

"The driver had cleaned the bus, but forensic examination revealed this was the bus in which the incident took place," the police commissioner said.

Asked why the bus was not stopped by police vans, Kumar said it was not practically possible to check every moving vehicle.

Sources said police secured CCTV footage of the bus which enabled them to zero in on the vehicle.

The investigators also sent text messages to the victims's mobile phones -- these had been snatched by the attackers -- to track them down.

Students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University staged a demonstration outside the Vasant Kunj police station to protest the incident.

"We try to create awareness in every locality, but nobody cares," one protestor said. "The government and police must ensure that harassment of women in Delhi should stop."

Ram Singh refused to undergo a Test Identification Parade, the procedure in which the alleged offender is brought before witnesses and the victims for identification.

The police said Ram Singh's custodial interrogation was needed to recover the clothes of the accused, the mobile phones and ATM cards of the victim and her male friend.

Additional reportage: PTI

Priyanka in New Delhi