‘I want to live’: Extraordinary courage of rape victim who lost intestines in horrific attack on Indian bus as police use tear gas on her supporters
- Victim is writing notes to her family as she fights for life in hospital
- Protesters clash with police as they try to march on presidential palace
- Supporters calling for the death penalty for rapists
A 23-year-old student who was brutally gang raped by up to seven men has told her family she wants to live as protests rage in India's capital in response to the attack.
Thousands of demonstrators have clashed with police after they tried to march to the presidential building in New Delhi, throwing stones while tear gas was fired in retaliation.
Inside the Intensive Care Unit at Safdarjung Hospital, the young victim has been communicating with her parents by scrawling notes on a piece of paper as she battles to stay alive.
Thousands of protesters have clashed with police in New Delhi after the brutal rape of a 23-year-old student by up to seven men
Demonstrators shouted slogans and brought placards demanding justice in the form of the death penalty for the rapists
Schoolchildren were among the swarm of protesters who attended the rally
Some protesters threw stones at police who fired tear gas and chased them with sticks in response
'Have they (the rapists) been caught?' she asked on Thursday.
'They should be punished' she wrote on another. And finally, 'I want to live'.
Six suspects have been arrested following the attack on December 16 when the girl was repeatedly raped and penetrated with an iron rod while on a contract bus.
She has had to have her intestine removed and doctors were initially doubtful she would survive.
Thousands of protesters attended the rally in New Delhi demanding the death penalty for rapists and better security for women
Police used water canons and fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd of protesters
A protester is hit by police with batons during the protest
After tit for tat battles with police all day, the demonstrators lit candles and said prayers.
Some of the protesters carried placards reading 'Save women. Save India' and 'Hang the rapists'.
V.K. Singh, a retired Indian army chief, joined the protesters and blamed 'political and bureaucratic apathy for crimes against women.'
He demanded immediate police reforms to train and arm security forces.
The horrendous incident has prompted fierce debate across India with many demanding the death penalty for those responsible and and new laws to better protect women.
Delhi has a high number of crimes against women but there has been a 20 per cent increase in rape cases this year.
In 2011 there were 482 complaints in Delhi - dubbed 'the rape capital' - compared with 582 up to the end of November and there are 350 cases still to be heard.
A police chief sparked outrage yesterday after he suggested women should carry chilli powder to protect themselves and avoid going out at night.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters that the government would examine the demand and announced an official inquiry into last Sunday's rape attack.
It will also look at measures to improve safety and security for women.
Mr Shinde said five New Delhi police officers have been suspended for lack of prompt action following the rape attack.
He also met a delegation of student demonstrators and urged them to end their protest.
Delhi has a high number of crimes against women but there has been a 20 per cent increase in rape cases this year
Government ministers have promised swift justice in the case and new measures to better protect women
C.P.N. Singh, a junior home minister, appealed to the demonstrators, who were mostly students, to protest peacefully and avoid vandalising government property.
"The government is hearing you and taking steps necessary to ensure the safety of women," Mr Singh told reporters.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, a spokesman for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, however, condemned the police action against the protesters and asked government leaders to talk to them.
The home minister also announced that GPS units will be installed in government buses to prevent them from straying from their allotted routes.
Also, bus drivers in New Delhi will be required to display their identification prominently in the vehicles and remove tinting from their windows.
The attack happened after the victim and a male friend, both from Uttar Pradesh, boarded the bus at around 9.30pm after watching a movie.
The 23-year-old victim is reportedly conscious and has scrawled notes to her family including one which read 'I want to live'
Six suspects have been arrested but police have also been suspended for failing to respond quickly enough
The man's uncle said that after they got onto the bus they saw a few people sitting inside.
'There were around seven people in the bus, who first started teasing him,' he said. 'Then they started harassing the victim to which he reacted and resisted.'
Angered by his resistance, they hit him with iron rods and other blunt objects found in the bus before taking the woman into the front cabin of the bus and raping her.
'Five to seven persons attacked the couple,' the uncle added. 'When my nephew tried to save the girl, he was beaten with iron rods, the girl was then gang-raped.'
Sources said that her clothes were cut with a blade which also sliced her abdomen and she was hit around the head.
The man's uncle continued: 'I saw the medical report. It says that she was raped by each person twice and then they dumped them at a secluded place in Mahipalpur after robbing them all their valuables including mobile phones.'
The assailants eventually stripped the pair and dumped them on the side of a road.
The victim had a two-hour operation on Wednesday to remove the infected areas of her intestine and is said to be 'stable, conscious and alert'.