India police suspended in suspected new rape case

Protest in Delhi. 6 Jan 2013
Angry protests over a gang rape and murder last month have continued in Delhi

Four policemen have been suspended and a fifth transferred over the handling of a suspected new rape and murder case close to the Indian capital, Delhi.

The father of the alleged 21-year-old victim has told the BBC she was gang-raped. Her body was found on Saturday.

Two men have been arrested and a third suspect is reported to have fled.

Meanwhile, five men have arrived in court for a hearing in the case of the abduction, gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old, a case that shocked India.

The victim in the latest case was a factory employee in Noida, a suburb of Delhi.

She disappeared on Friday night while returning home from work, Indian media reported.

The woman's father complained that police initially failed to react when he reported her disappearance, suggesting instead that she had gone off with someone.

The case has triggered protests in Noida.

Fast-track court

News of the case came shortly before a preliminary hearing in Delhi in the case of five suspects in last month's gang rape.

Security at the court building is tight, says the BBC's Andrew North, who is outside the hearing.

Prosecutors have said they have extensive forensic evidence against the suspects, who could face the death penalty if found guilty.

The five accused have been named as Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.

Their trial is expected to take place in a newly-formed fast-track court in the next few weeks.

A sixth person accused in connection with the attack, a teenager, will be dealt with by a juvenile justice board.

On 16 December the victim, a student, was raped for nearly an hour on a bus before she was dumped with a companion by the side of a road.

She later died of her injuries.

Protests have continued across India in the wake of the attack.

A demonstration in Delhi on Sunday included protesters who have been on hunger strike for more than a week.

Campaigners are calling for tougher rape laws and reforms to the police, who critics say often fail to file charges against accused attackers.

'Martyr'

Also on Sunday, the victim's father denied a British newspaper report that he wanted his daughter named.

The Sunday People said the father had given permission to name him and his daughter, despite an Indian law that protects sex crime victims by prohibiting their identification.

The newspaper carried a photograph of the father, but said the family had requested no photograph of the victim be used.

The father was later quoted by the Hindustan Times and The Hindu newspapers as denying the comments attributed to him.

"I have only said we won't have any objection if the government uses my daughter's name for a new law for crime against women that is more stringent and better framed that the existing one," the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.

Last week, the father told BBC Hindi that he had no problem with his daughter's name being used in the context of a revised anti-rape law. "She is a martyr. It would cause no problem to the family," he said.

Indian minister Shashi Tharoor has also urged authorities to reveal the name so it can be used for a new anti-rape law.