Sushma Swaraj demands death for rapists, Shinde assures fast prosecution

Mumbai/New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) The gang-rape of a 22-year-old photojournalist in Mumbai was raised in parliament Monday with Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj demanding death penalty for the perpetrators as Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the state government would do its utmost to finish the probe and prosecute the accused fast.

Sushma Swaraj asked if there was any time frame for prosecuting the guilty and pointed out that those guilty in the Dec 16 gang-rape in Delhi last year had not been sentenced yet.

She also said that after the Dec 16 gangrape case, there were several gang rape cases reported. "We are not able to hang any of the brutes," she said.

"You hang one or two of these beasts fast ... and these incidents will stop," said Sushma Swaraj as several members thumped their desks in agreement.

Shinde, making a statement in the Lok Sabha, said: "The government of Maharashtra will do its utmost to complete the investigation in the crime and prosecute the accused under law expeditiously."

He said he has spoken to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and was assured the case would be tried in a fast track court and the verdict announced fast.

In Mumbai, city police Commissioner Satyapal Singh assured early justice for the young photojournalist who was gang raped by five men in an abandoned textile mill complex Aug 22.

"Our priority is to collect the evidence and file the chargesheet as soon as possible," he told reporters.

The Mumbai police have arrested all the five suspects who raped the woman. Two of the men were arrested on Sunday, including one from Delhi.

The police chief said all evidence had been collected and it would be handed over to forensic experts Tuesday. The men had also recorded the crime on their cell phones.

"The mobile phone on which the crime was video recorded by the accused has been recovered. We have also seized the phone of the victim which was sold off by the accused," said Satyapal Singh.

He said out of the five accused, three had criminal records. He also confirmed that none of the accused was a juvenile as was being claimed by one of suspects' mother.

"The accused was arrested in 2011 in a case," he said, suggesting that the suspect in question was aged over 18 years.

"He is not a minor. As per our record, he has completed his 18 years of age," Satyapal Singh said.

He, however, did not rule out the possibility of conducting a bone test to recheck his age.

The 22-year-old photojournalist was gang raped by the five accused when she was on an assignment for an English magazine and had gone to a desolate area in central Mumbai to take pictures of the abandoned factories. Her male companion was also attacked by the accused.

The young woman is in hospital after suffering serious injuries. She has demanded strictest punishment for the rapists and said she wants to move on.

On Sunday, her family pleaded for her privacy while the Maharashtra government said public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who successfully called for death sentence to Mumbai terror attack accused Ajmal Kasab, would take up the case against the five rapists.

The Mumbai gang rape mirrored the Dec 16, 2012 sexual assault in a bus in Delhi on a young woman who eventually died in a Singapore hospital. The Mumbai incident shocked the entire nation, triggering fresh demands for death to rapists.

In a related development, Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh said that state governments have been asked to increase representation of police to 35 percent in next five years from 5.6 per ent.

Speaking on the Mumbai gang-rape in Rajya Sabha, he said: "Efforts are being made for gender sensitization in police."

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