New Delhi: The Delhi Police, accused by the dead gang-raped woman's male friend of callously handling the situation were at pains Saturday to clarify their position even as a Delhi court asked for five of the six rapists to be produced before it on Monday.
The 28-year-old male friend of the gang-raped victim told Zee News Friday that police delayed taking his grievously injured friend to hospital that fateful Dec 16 night while they argued over jurisdictional area, losing precious time in rushing her to hospital that might have proven crucial in saving her.
In a short explanation, Delhi Police said their Police Control Room (PCR) vans got the first call at 10.21 p.m. that night about a couple, including a woman, lying on the road in a pool of blood. They claimed that two rescue vans reached the spot within minutes and took the victims to hospital in 33 minutes after receiving the first distress call.
"The PCR call was received at 10.21.35 p.m. the call was broadcast to PCR vans and Van Z-54 was directed to the spot," a statement from Delhi Police said.
Delhi Police Joint Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Vivek Gogia said the victims were taken to the hospital in a PCR van in 16 minutes.
To allegations by the woman's friend that no one, including the police came forward with any clothing for the couple, who were dumped naked and bloodied on the road, the police said police personnel had organised a bedsheet for them from a nearby hotel.
Gogia denied any bickering over jurisdiction among PCR vans on taking the couple to hospital and said the PCR vans were directly under the control room and not under any police station.
"The PCR system is directly connected to a centralized system connected with GPS (Global Positioning System)," Gogia added.
On the victim's friend allegation that they could have been taken to a nearby hospital, instead of Safdarjang Hospital, Gogia said the police always take the injured in such cases to a designated government hospital for medico-legal examination.
Gogia also clarified that they were not seeking appreciation or praise. "We performed our duty and conveyed the information," said Gogia.
But the brother of the dead woman also said that his sister would have probably lived if proper medical care was given to her on time.
"She lost too much blood lying on the roadside. If she had got good medical care on time she would have perhaps been with us today," her brother told IANS over phone from Ballia in Uttar Pradesh.
"There was a gap of nearly two hours from the time my sister was thrown on the roadside till she received medical aid at Safdarjung Hospital," he added.
After the sensational interview of the gang-rape victim's friend, Delhi Police slapped a case against Zee TV under 228 (A) of the Indian Penal Code. It pertains to the disclosure of the identity of a victim of certain offences, including rape.
The police action against the channel led to furore.
The Bharatiya Janata Party criticised Delhi Police action against Zee TV.
"Delhi Police cannot muzzle voice of the citizen by lodging a case against the channel. People have a right to know the truth," BJP leader Sushma Swaraj posted on Twitter.
At a party programme, BJP general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad said :"Such behaviour from the police is unacceptable. This is an attack on the freedom of the press." He also criticised Delhi Police for delay in taking the gang-raped woman and her friend to hospital on Dec 16.
"The two were lying semi-clad on the road after the incident and police personnel from three PCR vans were arguing for 25 minutes about whose jurisdiction the case falls under and who should take them to hospital," Prasad said.
Former top cop Kiran Bedi said such acts make people lose faith on police.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal issued a production warrant against the five accused for Jan 7. They have been charged with murder, gang-rape, abduction among other offences of the Indian Penal Code. The case against the sixth accused, said to be a minor, would be heard by the Juvenile Justice Board.
The accused - bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, fruit seller Pawan Gupta, gym instructor Vinay Sharma and bus cleaner Akshay Thakur - are lodged in Delhi's Tihar Jail.
The six on Dec 16 had gang-raped and tortured the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in a moving bus, leading to multiple-organ failure and her death.
They also assaulted her 28-year-old male friend. Both were thrown out of the bus after around 40 minutes, naked, bleeding and shivering. The friend will be the main witness in the case.
The woman succumbed to her injuries Dec 29 in a hospital in Singapore where she was airlifted for specialised treatment.