India rape victim's pal hits police incompetence, public apathy

Updated 07 January 2013
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India rape victim's pal hits police incompetence, public apathy

NEW DELHI: Claims of police incompetence and public apathy stirred fresh outrage on Saturday in the case of a New Delhi gang-rape victim after her boyfriend recounted witnessing the horrific crime for the first time.
The man was also badly injured as he tried to prevent the assault on a moving bus on December 16 which has stirred violent protests and a bout of soul-searching about the treatment of women and rising sex crime in India.
Speaking to AFP and an Indian news channel, the boyfriend said passers-by ignored the naked and bloodied couple for 30 minutes after they were thrown out of the bus and police then wasted more time arguing over who had jurisdiction.
“A passer-by found us (after the attack), but he did not even give my friend his jacket,” he told AFP in the interview which also raised questions about the medical treatment given to the woman at a government hospital.
The claims came as a trial of five suspects started in a district court in south Delhi where the accused have been ordered to appear together for the first time on Monday.
In addition to rape, kidnap and robbery, they face a murder charge and possibly the death penalty after the 23-year-old victim died last weekend from her horrific injuries, including internal wounds caused by an iron bar.
“The cruelty I saw should not be seen ever,” the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told AFP of the savagery of the assault which started after the couple were lured onto the bus after watching a film together.
Speaking to the Hindi-language Zee News channel, he said it took 90 minutes for the injured pair to reach hospital because passers-by ignored their pleas for help, and police were late to arrive and then needlessly delayed.
“They could have taken us to hospital, given us clothes in that crucial one-and-a-half hours. For a dying person every minute is important,” he told the channel.
Facing angry criticism on the streets, where protests have raged over the last three weeks against the lack of safety in the Indian capital, the police issued a hasty rebuttal.
A senior officer from the area where they were found, Vivek Gogia, told a press conference computer logs showed the police were on the scene six minutes after receiving a distress call and the couple were in hospital 28 minutes later.
“This is not the time to engage in arguments,” he added.
Separately, the police filed a case against Zee News because the interview — which showed the boyfriend’s face unobscured — had illegally disclosed the identity of a rape victim.
The Committee to Protect Journalists criticized the move in a statement.
While faith in the police force is already low — they are widely pilloried as corrupt, insensitive to complaints from women and understaffed — the revelation that bystanders failed to help the injured couple angered some Delhi residents.
“As people we should try and improve ourselves because the boy talked about how the people who were passing by did not try to help them,” said Abhinav Agarwal, a 31-year-old manager at a private company.
“More than the police, it is the public who should try to reflect and bring a change in their attitude,” he told AFP.
Others pointed out that witnesses to crimes were generally reluctant to help or come forward in India out of fear of being implicated by police or being consumed in a lengthy trial.
At the district court hearing the case of the suspects in south New Delhi, magistrate Namrita Aggarwal told AFP that she had “taken cognizance of the case” during a hearing, meaning that the trial was now formally under way.
The suspects have been called to appear before her on Monday, she said.
Aggarwal had been expected to transfer the case to a separate fast-track court set up to try the case.
The raped woman was an ambitious physiotherapy student interning in New Delhi who had been to see the “Life of Pi” film at an upmarket shopping mall with her boyfriend.
“I was not very confident about getting into the bus but my friend was running late, so we got into it. This was the biggest mistake I made,” he said.
He told how the driver of the bus and his accomplices allegedly made lewd remarks before stopping the vehicle, which had tinted windows, and locking the doors.
“They hit me with a small stick and dragged my friend to a seat near the driver’s cabin,” he told AFP.
After that the “driver and the other men raped my friend and hit her in the worst possible ways in the most private parts of her body.”
“I cannot tell you what I feel when I think of it. I shiver in pain,” he said.
In his interview with AFP, he said he was “in love” with the victim but declined to comment on statements from friends that they were to marry.
The man’s father also spoke to AFP by telephone, saying his son was still in a state of shock but that he was proud he had done his best to defend the woman.
“It will take some time for him to heal mentally,” he said.
“He has started eating home food and is feeling much better after leaving Delhi. My son fought bravely. He tried until the very end to save the girl and I am proud of him.”


Thailand seeks control over movies about cave ordeal

Updated 8 min 48 sec ago
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Thailand seeks control over movies about cave ordeal

BANGKOK: Thailand’s military government wants to control how movies portray the ordeal of the young soccer players and their heroic rescue from a flooded cave that drew worldwide interest and the attention of foreign filmmakers.
Culture Minister Vira Rojpochanarat said he will propose at next week’s Cabinet meeting that a special committee be established to oversee the production of films, documentaries and videos related to the experiences of the 12 boys and their coach who were trapped in a cave for almost three weeks before being rescued.
With the boys returned home, attention has turned to how the media is handling the post-rescue story. There has been criticism of several news outlets, mostly foreign, who are considered to have ignored official advice to leave the boys alone for at least a month to try to avoid psychological stress that recounting their ordeal might trigger.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Friday he had instructed officials from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to make sure the young soccer players and those associated with them are not bothered while they are going through a period of mental rehabilitation.
He said the foreign media “may not know the consequences of our child protections laws. Even if unintentional, but if guilty, we can conduct legal proceedings against foreigners.” Wissanu, who is considered the top legal expert for Thailand’s ruling junta, said the boys are protected by child protection laws and information protection laws.
The rescue, carried out successfully against high odds, was a rare bit of feel-good news from Thailand, which has been mired in political conflict and heavy-handed military rule for more than a decade. Even as the world watched the cave saga, a boat sinking off a southern resort island claimed almost 50 Chinese tourists, an event that normally would have registered as a high-profile debacle.
The cave rescue also allowed the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has been criticized for political maneuvering to stay in power after elections planned for next year, to share in some glory.
The government’s Thailand Film Office already regulates the production of films shot in Thailand by foreign companies, including vetting scripts and issuing filming permits, but Vira said the committee would oversee content, licensing and the protection of privacy of the rescued team and their families.
Vira, speaking after a film board meeting Thursday chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu, said five foreign film production companies have shown interest in making a movie or documentary about the cave rescue and some had already been on location to collect information.
Thai film producers have also shown interest but have not yet contacted the government, Vira said.
The boys and coach of the Wild Boars soccer team were released from the hospital on Wednesday and at a news conference described how they got trapped in the cave, and after 10 days cut off from the outside world, were astonished to see two British divers rising from muddy waters and assuring them work was underway to rescue them.
“This (story) has all the right elements,” Vira said. “If you talk about drama associated with filmmaking, it has everything. It has loss as well as jubilation. The content and story it has for filmmaking is very complete. Even if you don’t create additional drama, these events had every flavor.”
Wissanu said that it is the boys’ right to sign contracts for their own benefit, but added that the government committee would provide advice “like a manager,” but without seeking any profit for itself.
He said the government was “very afraid” that some of those close to the ordeal could be coerced to sign contracts “because once a contract is signed, that person can’t do anything else, which is why someone with legal knowledge needs to step in and help.”
Several murals and sculptures have already been commissioned to mark the epic cave adventure. Many focus on Saman Gunan, a former Thai navy SEAL who volunteered to help with the rescue effort and died while diving on a mission to supply the cave with oxygen tanks essential to helping the boys escape. Saman is being treated as a national hero.