Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault that some readers may find disturbing.
New Delhi police have arrested a total of 12 people, including eight women and three minors, for the beating and parading of a gang-rape survivor in India’s capital last week.
Police accused the three minors of gang-raping a 20-year-old woman while other family members cheered them on during a “revenge attack” on the victim, Al Jazeera reported. The incident occurred during India’s Republic Day on Jan. 26.
The victim’s sister, who uses the alias Jaspreet, told local media outlets that she was on her way to her sister’s home in Karkardooma moments before the incident, Vice reported.
While Jaspreet’s sister reportedly went outside to greet Jaspreet, four men immediately abducted the woman. They forced her into a car before driving off.
The young woman was reportedly brought to a house in Kasturba Nagar, which is a 10-minute drive from the victim’s home. According to Jaspreet and a police official quoted by local reporters, the suspects blamed the rape survivor for the death of Ayush Nahariya, a 16-year-old boy who committed suicide on Nov. 12, 2021.
“My sister got married in 2018,” Jaspreet she told local media outlets. “Ayush fell in love with her. He used to keep calling and asking her to leave her husband and be with him. She would always refuse. They blamed my sister for Ayush’s death and started taking out their anger against us.”
The woman was reportedly gang-raped by Nahariya’s male relatives. His female relatives allegedly encouraged the men as they sexually assaulted the victim. After torturing her, the suspects allegedly paraded her around the streets of Kasturba Nagar with a shaved head, a tarred face and a garland of discarded slippers hanging from her neck. None of the neighbors stopped them. After Jaspreet phoned the authorities, her sister was located and saved around 15 minutes after the call. She was transported to a safe location with her family under the protection of the police.
Following Nahariya’s death last year, Jaspreet said she and her sister received rape threats from the male relatives of his family, who own a bootleg alcohol business in the neighborhood and are feared by the people there.
Jaspreet claimed her family has been terrorized ever since Nahariya’s death. She said that his relatives had set fire to her father’s rickshaw in January and female family members physically attacked her aunt.
Jaspreet also said that she reported the January attack to authorities, but they never followed up.
“I have called the police two to three times when this happened,” she said. “I went to the Vivek Vihar station and filed a complaint also once. Once the police came and warned the men but nothing happened. I never thought they would do this to us.”
On Saturday, police filed an additional complaint against three of Nahariya’s male relatives for sexual harassment, physical assault and criminal intimidation charges.
Police also filed a case against a person who created a YouTube video disclosing the victim’s identity. Two other cases were filed against two people for spreading false information about the victim, alleging that she had committed suicide.