New Delhi: Police in New Delhi announced their first arrests late Wednesday over the alleged gang-rape of a Danish tourist, with two homeless men detained in connection with the latest shocking sex crime in India’s capital.
“Two person(s) have been arrested in connection with rape case with Danish national,” read a statement from the police, which said both men were “vagabonds” at New Delhi railway station.
One of the men, a 25-year-old originally from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state, had an iPod music player belonging to the victim in his possession when arrested, the statement said.
The other had a spectacles case and 1,000 rupees in cash.
Police released 15 men detained earlier who provided information about the whereabouts of the suspects, a deputy police commissioner Alok Kumar said by phone.
The 51-year-old woman told police she was raped at knife- point by a group of men between 5 pm and 8 pm on Tuesday in Paharganj neighborhood, which contains many hotels and is close to tourist sites.
The case adds to safety concerns that have deterred women from visiting the world’s second-most populous nation, where the number of reported rapes jumped 57% over the past decade. Indian leaders have struggled to alter male attitudes toward women even after the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December 2012 triggered an international uproar.
“The message being sent to the world is that if you are a woman, you shouldn’t come to India alone,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, a women’s advocacy group in New Delhi. “It is a matter of great, great concern that this is happening, and we’re not doing enough to stop these attacks.”
Danish ambassador Freddy Svane confirmed in an e-mail that one of his country’s citizens was involved in a rape case. The embassy in New Delhi had no further comments, he said.
A woman was raped in India every 21 minutes on average in 2012, according to the most recent National Crime Records Bureau data, statistics that police say reflect increased confidence among females to report attacks.
The country saw a 35% drop in foreign female tourist arrivals in the first three months of last year, according to a study published in April by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India.
In March, a Swiss woman was gang raped while camping with her husband, while a British woman jumped out of the window of her hotel room in Agra — home to the Taj Mahal — to flee an assault by staff. In June, an American woman was gang raped while hitchhiking back to her hotel in the Himalayas.
The Danish tourist was attacked on Tuesday on her final night in India as she returned from the city’s main shopping district and approached a group of men asking for directions, according to Pushkar Singh, the manager at the Hotel Amax Inn, where she was staying. The men robbed her, beat her and then took turns to rape her, he said.
“What part of Delhi is safe now?” Singh said in an interview. “There’s a problem of education among a portion of the population, and that’s rotting the city.”
The hotel had seen a decline in tourists since the rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in Delhi prompted a national outcry and made international headlines, Singh said. The Danish tourist was due to fly home at 10 am on Wednesday after spending two nights at his hotel, he said.
Paharganj’s budget hotels, bars and restaurants are popular with backpackers. It is less than a kilometer from Delhi’s main railway station and a short drive from tourist sites such as India Gate, the Mughal-era Red Fort and the presidential palace. BLOOMBERG
(AFP contributed to this story.)