BHOPAL, India (Reuters) - Police have arrested six men accused of the gang-rape of a Swiss tourist who was camping with her husband in an Indian forest in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
All the accused will go before a magistrate on Monday, Dilip Arya, deputy inspector general of police, told Reuters. Police have also recovered the couple’s valuables.
The assault on the 39-year-old Swiss woman on Friday night came three months after a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang-raped and beaten in a moving bus and thrown bleeding on to the street in a case that sparked outrage in the country. She died later in hospital in Singapore.
The latest incident has again turned the spotlight on the security of women in the world’s largest democracy.
One woman is raped every 20 minutes in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. But police estimate only four out of 10 rapes are reported, largely due to victims’ fear of being shamed by their families and communities.
The Swiss woman and her husband were touring the state by bicycle and were camping overnight in the forest. Arya told Reuters on Saturday that seven men attacked the couple in their tent and four of them raped the woman.
However, police investigation later found out that only six people were involved in the crime, he said.
Those arrested are identified as Baba, Bhuta, Rampro, Bishnu, Gaja and Nitin. They all aged between 20 and 25 years and belong to a local tribe known as the Kanjar, Arya said. They were also carrying a firearm.
No information was immediately available on the defendants’ account of events.
The woman and her husband have left the state and are now at the Swiss embassy in New Delhi.
“A decision regarding the next steps to be made in the interest of the two concerned Swiss citizens will be made with them in due course,” a spokesman for the Swiss Ministry for Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
After the physiotherapy student was raped and beaten in Delhi last December, millions of Indians took to the streets demanding the death penalty for her attackers and official action to reduce the number of assaults on women.
Four men and a juvenile are on trial for that attack. A sixth defendant, who police say was the ringleader, was found dead in his cell on Monday.
Additional reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Writing by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Stephen Powell