Thu, Jun 06, 2013 - Page 6 News List

India hunts US tourist rape suspects

ASSAULT:Police also reported the arrest of a local businessman suspected of raping a 21-year-old Irish volunteer who works at a children’s charity in Kolkata

AFP and AP, NEW DELHI and KOLKATA

Indian police investigating the gang-rape of a US tourist by a group of truckers yesterday said they had identified the type of vehicle used in the attack and collected forensic evidence.

The 30-year-old American hitched a lift in the truck on Monday night in Manali, a tourist destination in the foothills of the Himalayas, after struggling to find a taxi to return to her hotel.

The driver and two accomplices then abducted her and took her to a secluded spot where they raped her for more than an hour, she told police.

“She is recovering fast and helping us move forward with the investigation. She has given us details of how the men looked, what they were wearing, which will help us,” senior police officer V.K. Dhawan said by telephone.

“She has identified the truck type. It is typically used to transport construction materials so we are checking construction sites to see which trucks were in use at that time,” he added.

Police also have forensic evidence and have identified tire marks from the site where the attack occurred, Dhawan added.

More than 2,000 trucks a day ply the Manali highway, which connects the town with remote Himalayan villages.

The woman, who cannot be identified under Indian law, is staying at a hotel under police protection in the Manali area, about 500km north of the capital, New Delhi.

The victim told police she would meet US embassy officials later yesterday, Dhawan said.

In related news, police yesterday said they had arrested a man accused of raping an Irish woman who volunteered at a children’s charity in the city of Kolkata.

The local businessman who was arrested was to appear in court later yesterday, according to a police official, who said he could not be named because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The man attended a party the woman hosted to celebrate her 21st birthday late on Friday, the official said. She later went to the man’s house where she drank a cup of tea and passed out, then she was raped, the official said. Few other details were immediately available.

The reported assaults have heightened concerns about sexual violence in India. In March, six men were arrested in the gang-rape of a Swiss cyclist, and a British hotel guest jumped from a third-floor window fearing a sexual attack when the hotel owner tried to force his way into her room.

The fatal gang-rape of an Indian student in New Delhi in December sparked protests demanding better protection for women.

The government in response passed a law increasing prison terms for rape and making voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women punishable under criminal law.

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