Indian police hunt 3 suspects after girl is drugged, raped

NEW DELHI – Police on Saturday were hunting for three men who allegedly drugged, kidnapped and raped a teenage girl while she was on her way to a test-preparation course in northern India earlier in the week, the latest incident of violence against girls and women in the country.

Police officer Ashwini Kumar said the 19-year-old victim was in stable condition in a hospital in Haryana state and police have taken her statement.

Violent crime against women has been on the rise in India despite tough laws that were enacted five years ago.

The Press Trust of India news agency cited the girl’s father as saying she named three suspects who abducted her from a bus stop on Wednesday, but felt that eight to 10 people could have been in the village home where she was raped.

Indian media reports said the suspects were believed to be from her village and known to her. They dropped her off later in their car in Mahendragarh, a town about 145 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of the Indian capital, New Delhi.

Kumar said police know the identity of the suspects, but they had switched off their phones and were evading arrests.

The victim suffered injuries on her back, shoulders and private parts, The Times of India newspaper reported.

India has been shaken by a series of sexual assaults since 2012, when a student was gang-raped and murdered on a moving New Delhi bus. That attack galvanized a country where widespread violence against women had long been quietly accepted.

While the government has passed a series of laws increasing punishment for rape of an adult to 20 years in prison, it’s rare for more than a few weeks to pass without another brutal sexual assault being reported.

Responding to widespread outrage over the recent rape and killings of young girls and other attacks on children, India’s government in April approved the death penalty for people convicted of raping children under age 12.

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