Indian children painting messages ahead of a gathering to mourn the death of a 23-year-old victim.
Indian children painting messages ahead of a gathering to mourn the death of a 23-year-old rape victim in New Delhi. Photo by AP
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NEW DELHI - Passersby refused to stop to help a naked, bleeding gang-rape victim after she was dumped from a bus onto a New Delhi street, and police delayed taking her to a hospital for 30 minutes, the woman's male companion said in an interview.

It was his first public account of the gruesome attack that killed the 23-year-old student and prompted demands for reform of a law-enforcement culture seen as lax in crimes against women.

The gang-rape victim's brother blamed a delay in medical treatment of nearly two hours for her death on December 29.

The woman's male companion, who has not been named, sat in a wheelchair with a broken leg in his interview aired Friday on Indian TV station Zee News. He recounted the two-hour rape and beating by a group of men on a bus, which the pair had boarded as they were returning from seeing a movie together.

"I gave a tough fight to three of them. I punched them hard. But then two others hit me with an iron rod," he said. The woman tried to call the police using her cell phone, but the men took it away from her, he said. They then took her to the rear seats of the bus and one by one began raping her, beating and violating her with an iron rod.

Afterward, he overheard some of the attackers saying the woman was dead; they then dumped both onto the street, he said.

Yesterday, police officer Vivek Gogia denied the companion's assertion that police officers debated jurisdiction for 30 minutes before taking the rape victim and her friend to a hospital.

In a statement, Gogia said that within three minutes of receiving the alert, police vans reached the spot where the rape victim and her friend had been dumped. "Police vans left the spot for hospital with the victims within 12 minutes," he said. That time was spent in borrowing bed sheets from a neighboring hotel to cover the naked rape victim and her friend, he said.

Also yesterday, a court asked police to produce five men accused of raping the student for pretrial proceedings tomorrow. Police have charged them with murder, rape and other crimes that could bring the death penalty.

A sixth suspect, listed as a 17-year-old, was expected to be tried in a juvenile court, where the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility.

Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan said the summary received from Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore said the rape victim's death was caused by septicemia and multiple organ failure, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. The woman had been sent to Singapore for treatment.

He also told Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal that the DNA test confirmed that the victim's blood tallied with the bloodstains found on the clothes of all the accused.

Meanwhile, the rape victim's brother said the delay in providing medical treatment led to complications that perhaps caused her death.

"She told me that after the incident she had asked passersby for help but to no avail, and it was only after the highway patrol alerted the police that she was rushed to hospital, but it had taken almost two hours," the Press Trust of India quoted the brother as saying. "By then a lot of blood was lost."

The 23-year-old woman died from massive internal injuries suffered during the attack.

The assailants dumped their bleeding and naked bodies under an overpass after the attack. The woman's companion waved to passersby on bikes, in autorickshaws and in cars for help, but no one stopped. "They slowed down, looked at our naked bodies and left," he said.

"My friend was grievously injured and bleeding profusely," he said. "Cars, autos and bikes slowed down and sped away. I kept waving for help. The ones who stopped stared at us, discussing what could have happened. Nobody did anything."