By Gardiner Harris
NEW DELHI — The police arrested a second suspect in the rape and torture of a 5-year-old girl on Monday and announced that the number of reported rapes in New Delhi had more than doubled since December, while molesting cases had risen sixfold.
The second suspect, Pradeep Kumar, 19, was arrested in the eastern state of Bihar, where the first suspect, Manoj Kumar, was found early Saturday morning. The two men are not related. Pradeep Kumar was arrested after being implicated by Manoj Kumar in the rape of the girl, according to Indian news reports.
Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said at a news conference Monday that the increase in the number of reported sex crimes in New Delhi was a measure of how much more seriously the police took such reports since the gang rape of a medical student in December led to widespread protests and the enactment of a new rape law. In addition to the sharp rise in the number of reported rape and molesting cases, cases of sexual harassment have risen more than sevenfold, he said.
Protesters besieged the police headquarters for the third day Monday, demanding the commissioner’s resignation. But he said he had no plans to quit.
“If my resigning could prevent such depraved actions of society, I would resign 1,000 times,” he said. “The problem is one of mental depravity. The problem is one of mental sickness. And that will not be sorted out by anyone resigning, least of all the leader of the police force.”
He dismissed the idea that police officers could have prevented the rape of the 5-year-old or, indeed, could prevent most rapes.
“Rapes are opportunistic crimes committed within the confines of private spaces,” he said. “Ninety-seven percent are committed within homes, 3 percent by strangers.”
He then listed the relationships between the victim and the rapist in the cases that are now being investigated by the police, and they included fathers, ex-husbands, cousins, neighbors, doctors, landlords and a priest.
Manoj Kumar and Pradeep Kumar have been arrested on suspicion that they used chocolate to lure the 5-year-old into Manoj Kumar’s apartment, where they raped, tortured and tried to murder her. The men are alleged to have fled shortly after. Two days later, her parents found her in the apartment after hearing her crying, according to reports in the Indian news media.
The 5-year-old’s family said the police did not take their complaint seriously, did not search adequately and then tried to bribe them into silence after she was found.
The police commissioner said that he had suspended three police officials in the case and that, after an investigation, “We will make an example of the errant police officers who have not responded or not reacted in the manner expected of them.”
Hospital officials said Monday that the child’s condition was improving. Doctors had treated her for a blood infection and said that she would need further surgery.
Officials said over the weekend that the hospital was also treating another 5-year-old girl in a sexual attack, and Indian officials reported on Monday that they were looking into at least three other rapes of minors in New Delhi over a one-week period, with victims ranging in age from 2 to 15.
(To read the original article, visit this New York Times link )