India’s government, facing swelling protests over the gang-rape of a female student on a bus, vowed on Friday to press for life sentences for her six attackers and promised stricter policing.
Home Secretary R.K. Singh also offered state assistance to the 23-year-old victim of the brutal Sunday night attack who was fighting for her life in hospital after suffering enormous injuries to her intestines.
“We will ask for the maximum punishment of life imprisonment and ask the court for the speedy trial of the accused,” Singh said amid demands from thousands of angry protesters for the death sentence for the detained suspects.
Six drunken men were joyriding on a bus when they picked up the physiotherapy student and her 28-year-old male companion and took turns raping her. Afterwards, they threw the pair off the speeding vehicle.
Police say the woman was attacked with an iron rod after being raped.
Five people, including the bus driver, have been arrested while a hunt is underway for the remaining suspect, city police commissioner Neeraj Kumar said.
Mr. Kumar said police have charged the detained suspects with attempted murder.
“Police teams are close on the heels of the sixth and we will get him soon,” Mr. Kumar said at a joint news conference with the home secretary.
Mr. Kumar promised a slew of measures to “make Delhi safe,” promising squads of officers would patrol the city, crack down on vehicles with darkened glasses and zero in on drunken motorists.
“All hooliganism will be swiftly punished,” the home secretary added.
Hundreds of people, mostly women, kept a vigil outside the hospital where the woman was being kept on life support after several rounds of surgery.