Women and children during a protest against rape incidents at Rajghat in New Delhi. Picture for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: PTI

Dubai: Another horrific case of rape has shocked Indian Twitter users, as police officials have arrested 18 men in Purasawalkam, Chennai, for allegedly raping a 12-year-old girl for seven months at her apartment building.

Rohini Singh @rohini_sgh tweeted: “This story has shaken me to the core. An entire community got together to rape a child. I cannot even fathom the depravity and horror of this act.”

Ravish Virulkar @ravishvirulkar2 tweeted: “Horrified by thinking what the child would have been through all these days. Her childhood is destroyed and she may not overcome this horrific situation ever. This crime is not less than murder. All culprits should be give the capital punishment... nothing else.”

At least 22 men, including security guards, elevator operators and plumbers, were involved.

The grade seven student has a hearing disorder, and according to the Indian newspaper, Times of India, the perpetrators sedated her with injections, drug-laced soft drinks and a powder that they made her sniff before sexually assaulting her. They blackmailed the child with the threat of releasing videos of the act, and threatened her with violence.

This continued for seven months, until the girl shared her trauma with her older sister, a college student who was visiting home from Delhi. She informed their parents, who then filed a complaint with the city’s all-women police station – Ayanavaram Police Station.

The fact that the youngest of the men was 23 years old, and the oldest 66, was indicative of a deeper issue, tweeps said.

@tune2john tweeted: “Just look at the ages of those filthy creatures! Imagine them committing this crime for seven months and going back to their own homes – to their wives, mothers, daughters!”

According to Indian news reports, the building’s 66-year-old elevator operator would lead the child away as soon as she was dropped home by her school bus. The rapists would then take her to the building’s basement, public washrooms, terrace, gym or vacant flats.

Speaking to Indian media, a police officer said: “The girl’s father was away at work through most of the day. Her mother, a homemaker, did not think anything was amiss when the girl came home late from school. She assumed that her daughter was playing with friends in the complex.”

Earlier this month, the Indian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of the four men convicted in the Nirbhaya rape case, which shocked the nation in 2012. Now, twitter users are seeking swift justice for the crime against the 12-year-old.

Swati Kataria @swatikataria tweeted: “If these men aren’t hanged, I will lose my faith in this country. Even animals aren’t this depraved.”

Tweep Syed Abbas @Abbas4yu wrote: “They should be hanged until death. For such crimes the law should be strict and they should not issue any bail.”

On Monday, Delhi Women’s Commission (DCW) took to Twitter to appeal to the public to help a six-year-old girl who was brutally raped in the Indian capital.

Kavitha Reddy @k1312reddy wrote: “Why is the Prime Minister’s Office not taking any stringent action against such rapists? Not a single day passes without us hearing about rape against women and young girls.”