The brutal killing of a 16-year-old girl in a crowded public alleyway in India’s capital has once again sparked outrage over the safety of women and the pervasive violence perpetrated against them.
The incident, which unfolded on Sunday, was captured on a security camera and showed the attacker repeatedly stabbing and bludgeoning the victim while numerous people walked by without intervening. Only one individual attempted to pull the assailant away but quickly retreated.
The victim’s body was discovered in the Shahbad Dairy area of Rohini, a neighbourhood in northern Delhi, on Sunday evening. On Monday afternoon, the police announced the arrest of a male suspect named Sahil in connection with the murder. Sahil, identified as a mechanic, was apprehended in Bulandshahr, a neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh, according to Ravi Kumar Singh, Deputy Police Commissioner for Outer Delhi.
Janak Raj, the grieving father of the victim, recounted the devastating sight of his daughter lying lifeless on the ground. He expressed deep anger and sorrow over the lack of assistance from bystanders, stating that their intervention could have saved her life. Raj also lamented that some onlookers were more focused on filming the incident rather than helping. His daughter had been supporting the family financially through tutoring, and Raj tearfully expressed his profound loss and questioned how to move forward.
This tragedy is the latest in a series of killings and sexual assaults that have sparked public anger and highlighted the urgent need for improved safety measures for women in India. Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal voiced his sadness and concern on Twitter, emphasising the need for stronger police action to instil fear in criminals. Swati Maliwal, the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, described the incident as deeply unsettling, highlighting the growing sense of insecurity faced by women and girls in Delhi.
India has long grappled with addressing gender violence, with the country being deemed the most dangerous place for women in a 2018 survey by the Thompson Reuters Foundation. The frequency of crimes against women has shown an upward trend, with a 20% increase in such crimes reported in 2020 compared to 2013.
Activists argue that the actual numbers could be much higher as many cases, including rape, often go unreported. Yogita Bhayana, the founder of People Against Rapes in India, stressed the urgent need to challenge the patriarchal mindset that perpetuates such violence and called for comprehensive efforts to address the root causes.