The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Diplomat rape suspects in net

New Delhi, Oct. 17 (PTI): Delhi police today picked up 10 suspects in connection with the rape of a European diplomat and claimed to be making “fair and fast progress” in the case.

Police are also hunting for a man with an injury on his hand made by Indian film maker Akansha Joshi, who was allegedly attacked about 30 minutes after the assault on the diplomat on Tuesday night in the parking lot of the Siri Fort auditorium, the venue of the International Film Festival of India.

Deputy commissioner of police (south district) Vivek Gogia said 10 suspects had been picked up and were being questioned “thoroughly”.

“Their movements at the time of the incident are being verified and fingerprints are being matched with those lifted from the lighter and the victim’s car,” he said.

In an effort to help identify the culprits from among the suspects, police have e-mailed their photographs along with those of several others to the victim.

Police are also scanning Swiss visa applications received recently to ascertain whether any of them was involved in the crime.

Gogia said after the release of sketches of the accused yesterday, information had started pouring in, which was being verified.

“Two to three of these clues were strong and these leads were being pursued intensively,” he said.

About 2,000 people have been questioned, 500 of them thoroughly. A virtual “door-to-door” identification campaign was also being undertaken.

Police have circulated thousands of copies of the sketches of the accused across the capital and 20 teams are trying to trace the owner of the pink-coloured plastic lighter, recovered from the victim’s car.

“We have strong indicators and are hopeful of a breakthrough very soon,” Gogia said, adding that police were “zeroing in on the culprits”.

He said there might be some connection between the sexual assault on the diplomat and the attack on the film maker as in both cases two men had threatened to pump bullets into the victims. There was also some resemblance among the accused in the two cases.

While there was no witness in the incident involving the diplomat, a foreigner has approached the police, claiming he had seen the attack on the film maker, Gogia said.

As investigations were under way, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani chaired a meeting of Union home secretary . Gopalaswamy, Delhi Lt Governor Vijai Kapoor, chief secretary Shailja Chandra, police commissioner R.S. Gupta and other senior police officers this evening.

Gopalaswamy later told reporters that information had been gathered on the rapists and expressed confidence that they would be arrested soon.

The meeting decided to increase police patrolling, particularly in and around parks, cinema halls, girls’ educational institutions, hostels and other vulnerable places to prevent a recurrence of the incidents, Gopalaswamy said.

Delhi police will also organise self-defence training programmes for girls to enable them develop self-confidence and curb the feeling of insecurity among them, the home secretary added.

Gupta said plainclothes policemen would be deployed in buses, markets and around educational institutions and girls’ hostels and other sensitive areas to curb eve-teasing.

Activists of several women’s organisations staged a demonstration outside the police headquarters today, expressing outrage at the recent incidents of violence against women and demanded that the government ensure conviction of rapists under the existing laws instead of “sloganeering” about awarding death sentence to such criminals.

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit also led a delegation to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, seeking his intervention and met Advani to demand remedial steps.

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