Published on 5 Jan 2013 Sections ,

Police deny claim they delayed help to Indian rape victim

Police in Delhi deny claims made by the friend of a rape victim who died of her injuries, after he broke his silence to say that passers-by and officers delayed helping them.

Indian rape victim: 'police delayed help', says friend (G)

The friend of the 23-year-old Delhi rape victim gave his first public account of the horrific incident on Indian television.

Speaking from a wheelchair with a broken leg, he recounted the two-hour rape and beating on a bus by a group of men in Delhi, and recalled the reluctance of passers-by to come to their help. He also criticised police for their delay in bringing the pair to hospital.

However Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat denied the allegations. He told Reuters that GPS records show the first police van reached the scene four minutes after it was called and took the man and the woman to hospital within 24 minutes.

The interview with the woman’s companion, who has not been named, comes as a Delhi court heard evidence against the accused at a pre-trial hearing on Saturday afternoon. The five men charged with her fatal gang rape are due to appear in court on Monday – their first public appearance. A sixth suspect, listed as a 17-year-old, is expected to be tried in a juvenile court.

They would slow down, look at our naked bodies and drive away. No one, absolutely no one came up to us. Rape victim’s friend

The student died in hospital on 16 December, two weeks after the incident. Her attack and subsequent death has brought people to the streets to protest about violence against women.

The graphic account in a television interview on Zee News is likely to add fuel to public anger over the death. The victim’s friend spoke of how he was beaten unconscious with a metal bar while she was brutally raped and assaulted, including with a metal bar, before the pair were thrown off the bus.

He said that after she was dumped from a bus onto a New Delhi street, naked and bleeding, passers-by failed to stop to help and that when police arrived after 45 minutes, they delayed taking her to a hospital.

Read more: Violence against women ‘part of everyday lives’ in UK

‘Desperate for help’

“They tried [to] run us over. We didn’t have our clothes on. Then we kept waiting for help, waving to passers-by in auto rickshaws, cars, and on bikes,” the man said in Hindi. “They would slow down, look at our naked bodies and drive away. No one, absolutely no one came up to us, it was a good 25 minutes [before someone stopped].

“And finally, someone turns up, makes a few phone calls. A couple of police vehicles arrive at the scene, but they wasted time debating under which police station’s jurisdiction the case fell,” he added.

Police deny delay

On Saturday, police officer Vivek Gogia denied the companion’s assertion that police officers debated jurisdiction for 30 minutes before taking the rape victim and her friend to a hospital.

In a statement, Mr Gogia said police vans reached the spot where the rape victim and her friend were dumped within three minutes of receiving the alert. “Police vans left the spot for hospital with the victims within 12 minutes,” he said.

That time was spent borrowing bed sheets from a neighbouring hotel to cover the naked rape victim and her friend, he said.

The five men accused of raping the student are due to appear in court on Monday, charged with murder, rape and other crimes that could leave them facing the death penalty.