Indian protesters demand justice for vet's murder, suspected rape

By Vinod Babu and Anushree Fadnavis
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Indian protesters demand justice for vet's murder, suspected rape

Demonstrators argue with a police officer during a protest against the alleged rape and murder of a 27-year-old woman in Shadnagar

By Vinod Babu and Anushree Fadnavis

SHADNAGAR, India (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters gathered outside a police station on the outskirts of the Indian city of Hyderabad on Saturday demanding four men accused of raping and murdering a 27-year-old woman be handed over to them.

Some protesters clashed with police, hurling slippers, after the charred body of the woman, a veterinarian, was found in the town of Shadnagar, near Hyderabad, on Thursday.

Police said medical evidence would be hard to obtain given the state of the body but that they were working on the assumption the victim had been raped.

The four accused were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days, police said.

The victim's mother demanded that the culprits be burnt alive, the Times of India newspaper quoted her as saying.

The incident is reminiscent of the fatal gang rape of a young woman, labeled Nirbhaya (Fearless) by Indian media, on board a bus in 2012. The crime sparked widespread protests and drew international attention to violence against women in India.

The current case has also provoked outrage on social media with #HangRapists trending on Twitter in India.

"It has been 7 yrs to the gut-wrenching #Nirbhaya case & our moral fabric continues to be in pieces," Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar tweeted. "We need stricter laws. This needs to STOP!"

India's National Commission for Women has condemned the incident, with its head Rekha Sharma saying it "won't leave any stone unturned till these perpetrators get the punishment they deserve".

The commission advises the government on policy regarding women's rights and aims to provide a voice for issues ranging from sexual exploitation to employment, but has no judicial powers.

On Saturday, around 30 protesters including college students rallied outside a police station in central Delhi, carrying placards demanding justice and an end to crime against women.

"If your blood doesn't boil even now, it's not blood but water," they chanted.

One of the protesters, student Kanchan Pal, 19, said she wanted to raise her voice in support of rape victims.

"Women are being raped everywhere, whether it is Delhi or Hyderabad or any other state," said Pal. "We don't feel safe."


(Reporting by Vinod Babu in Shadnagar and Anushree Fadnavis in New Delhi; Additional reporting and writing by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Christina Fincher)