NEW DELHI – The police arrested a second suspect in the rape and torture of a 5-year-old girl Monday and announced that the number of reported rapes in New Delhi had more than doubled since December, while molestation cases had risen sixfold.
The second suspect, Pradeep Kumar, 19, was arrested in the eastern state of Bihar, where the first suspect, Manoj Kumar, was found early Saturday morning. The two men are not related.
Pradeep Kumar was arrested after being implicated by Manoj Kumar in the rape of the girl, according to Indian news reports.
Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar told a news conference Monday that the rise in the number of reported sex crimes in New Delhi was a measure of how much more seriously police are taking such reports since the gang rape of a medical student in December had led to widespread protests and the enactment of a new rape law. In addition to a sharp rise in the number of reported sexual assault cases, cases of sexual harassment have risen more than sevenfold, he said.
Protesters besieged police headquarters for the third day Monday, demanding the commissioner’s resignation. But the officer said he had no plans to quit.
“If my resigning could prevent such depraved actions of society, I would resign 1,000 times,” he said.
“The problem is one of mental depravity. The problem is one of mental sickness. And that will not be sorted out by anyone resigning, least of all the leader of the police force.”
Neeraj Kumar dismissed the idea that police officers could have prevented the assault on the 5-year-old or, indeed, could prevent most rapes.
“Rapes are opportunistic crimes committed within the confines of private spaces,” he said. “Ninety-seven percent are committed within homes; 3 percent by strangers.”
Neeraj Kumar then listed the relationships between the victim and rapist in the cases that are now being investigated by the police, and they included fathers, ex-husbands, cousins, neighbors, doctors, landlords and a priest.
Manoj Kumar and Pradeep Kumar have been arrested on suspicion that they used chocolate to lure the 5-year-old into Manoj Kumar’s apartment, where they raped, tortured and tried to kill her. The men are alleged to have fled shortly afterward. Two days later, her parents found her in the apartment after hearing her crying, according to reports in the Indian media.
The 5-year-old’s family said the police did not take their complaint seriously, did not search adequately and then tried to bribe them into silence after she was found.