Four men who raped a 26-year-old woman before strangling and setting her on fire in Indian state of Hyderabad on Wednesday night planned the gruesome assault in the evening when they saw her park her scooter near a toll booth, police documents accessed by NDTV have said.
While the suspects were quickly detained, the killing sparked new outrage in a country that has been in the international spotlight over its handling of sex assaults since the brutal gang-rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus in 2012. Three policemen have been suspended for negligence.
According to the remand report based on the statements of the four accused, the men punctured one of the tyres of the woman’s two-wheeler after she parked it and took a taxi to visit a dermatologist around 6:15 pm. The men, identified as Mohammad Areef, Jollu Shiva, Jollu Naveen and Chintakunta Chennakesavulu who worked as truck drivers and assistants, drank whiskey before attacking the woman.
When she returned around 9:15 pm, the men approached the woman, pretending to help her. They told the police that they saw her speaking on phone. After that, three of them forced her into a bush near the toll gate and switched off her phone. As the woman kept screaming for help, the men forced whiskey down into her mouth to silence her, the police report said.
The four men then undressed her and took turns to rape her till she fell unconscious and started bleeding. When she started coming back to her senses, the men smothered her to death. They wrapped the body in a blanket, loaded it onto the truck and carried it 27 km away. They placed it under a bridge and set it on fire with petrol around 2:30 am, police said. The woman’s body was found on Thursday morning.
A medical examination could not conclude that the woman had been raped due to the extensive burns to the remains.
“How anyone could subject another human being to such terrible, unprovoked violence is beyond imagination,” said former opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi on Twitter.
A woman who tried to stage a one-person demonstration outside the Indian parliament in New Delhi said she was beaten by police after refusing to go home.
“The only purpose of this protest is to ensure that I am not burned to death tomorrow,” Anu Dubey told reporters later, fighting back tears.
“That woman died, other girls have also died. Every 20 minutes, there is a rape in India. I don’t want to die. And I can’t be a spectator to any more rape cases. I’m tired of seeing such cases over and over again,” she said.
According to government figures, more than 32,000 rape cases were reported in 2017, however, experts say that the crime is vastly unreported.