New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday condemned the rape of a five-year-old girl in Delhi's Gandhinagar area, saying "The gruesome assault on a little child reminds us of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity from our society."
"Our government has moved with speed in strengthening the law to be able to deal more effectively with offences against women. All of us have the social responsibility to provide security to women. The safety, security and status of women in our country is a matter of concern. We have to make vast improvements in this area," Singh added while addressing a Civil Services Day function in the national capital.
The Prime Minister's statement came even as key accused Manoj Kumar is reported to have told police investigators that another man was present with him during the crime.
Delhi Police said that they trying to verify Manoj's claim.
The five-year-old girl who was brutally tortured and raped by a 25-year-old adult is responding well to the medical treatment given to her by doctors at the country's premium medical institute, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), even as the key accused,Manoj, underwent a medical check-up at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital here.
Though highly traumatised, the girl hould be discharged from the hospital in the next few days. Doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said the girl was alert, stable and was interacting with her parents. They added that she is responding to the treatment well. but was still under close observation. Her wounds would be re-dressed on Sunday and she will also need corrective surgery, doctors said. "Our team of counsellors and psychiatrists are attending to her. She will need corrective surgery in future," a doctor said.
Twenty-five-year-old Manoj, dressed in a multicolored printed shirt, and with a dusty cloth wrapped around his head, was made to sit on a bed till doctors came to conduct a formal medical examination.
Manoj, who is currently on transit remand, was arrested in Chiknouta village in Bihar's Muzaffarpur District from his in-laws house.
Meanwhile, protests against the dastardly crime continue with the public demanding punitive action against the accused and the senior police officials. There is also a growing demand for the removal of Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar.
People have been staging demonstrations at various places in New Delhi, including the residences of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and the Police Headquarters.
Demonstrations were also held outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Protests were also reported from outside the Gandhi Nagar police station where policemen allegedly showed laxity in dealing with the case.
Demonstrators tried to enter the police headquarters at regular intervals on Saturday by breaking the barricades, but a heavy posse of security personnel stationed there prevented them.
Activists of BJP, CPI(M), CPI, AAP, AISF, AIYF, SFI, ABVP and other organisations were part of the protest.
The girl, whose parents work as labourers and live in a slum in the outskirts of Delhi, went missing from home on April 15, according to Manish Sisodia, an official of the Aam Aadmi Party which organised Friday's protest.
She was found with bruise marks on her body in the suspect's house in a semi-conscious condition on Thursday by police after her parents had registered a complaint, media reports said.
The suspect, who fled, allegedly held the girl hostage for three days during which he raped and tortured her.
The girl's rape, which left her in a critical condition, revived memories of the brutal gang rape by five adult men and a teenaged boy of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a moving bus on December 16 in New Delhi. The girl died of severe internal injuries in a Singapore hospital.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was deeply disturbed by the incident, a statement from his office said.
The unprecedented protests by thousands of people across India after the December assault had forced Singh's government to pass tougher laws to fight gender crimes in March.
Her case also attracted the attention of the Home Ministry and several political leaders, who expressed anguish and demanded stringent action against the accused.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad visited AIIMS to meet the rape survivor even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran LK Advani expressed shock at the incident. Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj called for death penalty in child rape case and said "a sickness has seeped in the mentality". "Action and not words, required to check incidents like this heinous rape of a five-year-old," said Sonia Gandhi. President Pranab Mukherjee said he was "deeply anguished at the incident of the rape of a five-year-old child."
However, most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women and children. Activists said the new laws are not enough to deter sex offenders in India's largely patriarchal societies. "You need community policing to stop these crimes," activist Kiran Bedi said. (ANI with inputs)