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Police: Fifth suspect arrested in Mumbai gang rape case

From Mallika Kapur, CNN
August 26, 2013 -- Updated 0847 GMT (1647 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Victim says she and her colleague were approached in a mill compound
  • As her friend was tied up, she says, she was taken behind a wall and assaulted
  • Police say the photographer was attacked in a deserted area of Mumbai
  • India has seen multiple high-profile sexual violence cases since a New Delhi gang rape

Mumbai, India (CNN) -- Indian police arrested a fifth suspect Sunday in the alleged gang rape of a female photographer, authorities said, in a case that has renewed outrage over safety of women in the nation.

Soon after the sexual assault Thursday, police chief Satyapal Singh said they were searching for five suspects.

The alleged rape of the 23-year-old woman in the financial hub of Mumbai is the latest shocking sexual assault to make headlines in the South Asian nation.

READ: Keeping chivalry alive in India: Men respond to rape crisis

The photographer and a male colleague were on assignment in the area for a print publication when some men approached them, according to Mumbai police commissioner Satypal Singh.

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The two had walked from a train station to a nearby mill, the woman said in a statement released by police. One of the men claimed to be a railway employee and said, "Our boss has seen you taking photos; you will have to come with us."

According to the woman, he refused to let her talk to his boss, instead leading them away. Then, somewhere near the exit, one of the accused pointed at the photojournalist's colleague, saying he was responsible for a killing a few days ago.

"I pleaded with them to let us go, but they shouted at me and threatened me," the woman said. She and her colleague were taken further inside the mill complex.

There, they offered their camera and phone, begging to be let go. Instead, "they tied my friend's hands with (a) belt" as two others joined the group, the woman said.

"Three people stayed with my friend, and the two took me behind a wall," she added.

That's where the attack allegedly occurred. The victim said her mother called her phone multiple times, before one of the men switched it off. The woman said she was threatened with, among other things, sharp pieces of a broken beer bottle.

Police have since released sketches of all five suspects.

The victim was in stable condition at a local hospital.

The attack shocked Mumbai residents, who consider their city safer than the capital, New Delhi.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 221 rape cases were reported in Mumbai in 2012.

Sexual harassment in India: 'The story you never wanted to hear'

But figures provided by the government show that there has been a rape reported to police every day in Mumbai between January and March. The average number of reported rapes in a month in 2013 in the city rose to 30.33, from 19.25 in 2012.

Delhi Police said the number of reported rapes in the capital had jumped from 179 for the first 3½ months of last year to 463 for the same period this year.

A rise in the number of rapes reported does not necessarily mean that more are being committed. It may be that recent high-profile cases have encouraged women to come forward with complaints.

The case mirrors the December gang rape and death of a 23-year-old university student in the Indian capital.

The victim later died at a hospital in Singapore, sparking an outcry that quickly grew to include widespread concerns about women's safety and inequalities, triggering demonstrations in various cities.

In response, the nation's lawmakers have introduced tougher laws and punishments for sexual crimes and harassment. Despite such action, frequent episodes of sexual violence are reported in India.

Across India, 24,923 cases of rape were reported last year, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

India grapples with rape and sexual violence

Journalist Dharmesh Thakkar contributed to this report from Mumbai, and CNN's Greg Botelho contributed from Atlanta.

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