World | India

Rape victim ‘extremely critical’, no New Year greetings for Congress

Gandhi says no time should be lost in punishing guilty

  • IANS
  • Published: 17:12 December 28, 2012
  • Gulf News

Singapore/New Delhi (IANS) Doctors in Singapore on Friday struggled to save the 23-year-old Indian gang-rape victim who they said was “fighting for her life” and had suffered “significant brain injury” besides an infection in the lungs and abdomen.

As she battled the odds in Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital, 12 days after being brutally tortured and raped in the Indian capital on the night of December 16, she continued to occupy mindspace back home - for the people and the leadership.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi joined Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in promising quick justice and saying there would be no Happy New Year greetings for India’s ruling party.

The young physiotherapy intern needed the prayers and wishes.

Besides a prior cardiac arrest, she also had infection of her lungs and abdomen, “as well as significant brain injury”, Kelvin Loh, Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s chief executive officer, was quoted as saying by the Straits Times newspaper.

“The patient is currently struggling against the odds, and fighting for her life,” he said about the young woman who was taken in an air-ambulance from New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital to Singapore.

Left virtually for dead with her male friend on the road by the six males who raped her in a moving bus, she was so grievously injured that her intestines had to be taken out.

All six have been arrested for the crime, and both Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi promised quick justice.

“You have my assurance that our government is committed to bringing the guilty to justice as soon as possible,” the prime minister told reporters at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on the occasion of the party’s foundation day.

Wishing the woman speedy recovery, Gandhi said no time should be lost in punishing those responsible for the crime.

“Our wish is that she recovers and comes back to us... and no time is lost in bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice,” Gandhi said in her first public statement on the incident that has led to searching questions on the status of women in India, the crimes against women and the legal framework to address incidents of sexual assault.

Gandhi said the party was not celebrating New Year due to the sad event.

“December 28 is close to New Year. Normally we wish each other [well] but not so this time as our thoughts are with the young woman fighting for her life after a barbarous attack on her,” she said.

Manmohan Singh said a panel headed by a former chief justice of the Supreme Court had been set up to suggest changes in the law to make punishment more stringent, and another headed by a former Delhi high court judge to look into the lapses behind the ghastly crime.

Though the prime minister said she was being given the best possible medical care, a section of the medical community in the Indian capital said there was no logic in moving her to Singapore when she was in such a precarious condition.

“I can’t understand the logic behind it, or rather it is unusual to transfer the girl from Delhi to Singapore when the patient has suffered a cardiac arrest, as I have been informed by the media,” Samiran Nundy, chairman, department of surgical gastroenterology and organ transplantation, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.

Another senior doctor from the trauma centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, requesting anonymity, said: “Maybe it was politically logical to shift the patient. But as a doctor, I would say it is totally insensitive to shift the patient with her infection spreading. Shifting now, that too within a few hours of cardiac arrest, is thoughtless.”

Nundy also said that in case of intestinal transplant, chances of survival are five years in 60 percent of cases, and one year in 80 percent.

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