Victim was assaulted after accepting a ride early Sunday in Himachal Pradesh; police say 3 of the suspects are minors
Kullu police said Thursday that they had arrested six men suspected of raping an Israeli tourist in Manali on Sunday, after she accepted a ride in their vehicle.
District Police Chief Padam Chand said suspects Akshay Rana and Pankaj Sharma were detained on Monday and Khem Raj was arrested on Wednesday, the Indian Express reported.
Three other suspects nabbed on Wednesday are minors, and were not named in local media reports.
Local police Inspector General Ajay Yadav told the Express that Akshay and Pankaj had admitted to interrogators that they had raped the 25-year-old Israeli, while the other four were being held as accomplices.
“Further investigation in the case is underway to collect evidence. The police have got a detailed medical examination of the victim done,” he said.
The report said local authorities were “under constant pressure” from the Israeli embassy and were expediting the investigation and court proceedings.
All six were due to appear in court on Thursday.
The assault took place at around 3 a.m. Sunday near the town of Manali, after the woman tried to reach Kaza in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, local media reported.
The woman had been trying to reunite with friends who had already left for the nearby town of Keylong after they all arrived in Manali a few days earlier. Unable to find a taxi, she accepted a ride in a vehicle without license plates that was carrying six men. The occupants assured her they would take her to Manali, where she could catch a taxi to Keylong.
At some point along the way, two of the men raped her, the woman told police. After the assault she was dropped off in Manali where, together with a friend, she reported the incident to police later that morning. She was treated in the Bilaspur Civil Hospital hospital after she reported the attack.
The Times of India reported that after the rape, the victim suffered additional trauma as she was taken to several hospitals before a doctor was able to confirm the assault. She was first taken to community health centers in Manali, and then to Kullu, but since none of those facilities had gynecologists on staff, she was transferred to a hospital in Mandi and then to another in Sundernagar. But neither of those hospitals had gynecologists either, and the woman was finally taken to a hospital in Bilaspur, where a gynecologist was able to confirm she had been raped.
India hiked punishments for rapists as part of an overhaul of sexual assault laws in the wake of a fatal gang rape in 2012 that shone a global spotlight on frightening levels of violence against women in India. But rape and sexual assault remain commonplace, with incidents hitting the headlines on an almost daily basis.
An American woman was raped in Manali in 2013 by three men when she took a ride with them in a truck. In 2012 an Australian woman was also raped in the same area, located in the picturesque Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh state.
Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.