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Gang-rape accused on ‘suicide watch’


Protestors hold placards during a demonstration demanding justice for the gang-rape victim, at Central Park in New Delhi, yesterday. PTI

NEW DELHI:  All five accused in the heinous gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old here are under "suicide watch" after they stopped interacting with other jail inmates and amongst themselves, officials said.

Authorities in the Tihar Central Jail said the five — the sixth accused is a juvenile and lodged separately —  were not even talking to one another or to others in
their barracks.

"They just sit and brood," a jail source said.

On alert
The "suicide watch", officials said, there is an alert that the five could possibly harm themselves. A senior officer has been told to monitor their activities.
"We are putting all kinds of check on them to keep them away from (committing) any untoward incident. They are basically on suicide watch," a jail official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Officials said the five, against whom police filed a chargesheet in court on Thursday, face no threat from other prisoners.


"They are safe. There is no threat to them inside the jail," an officer said.
Ram Singh, 33, the main accused and the driver of the bus where the victim was gang-raped and tortured, is in a cell in Jail No. 3.

The sprawling Tihar Central Jail complex has several jails, each identified by a number. While Pawan, 19, and Akshay, 29, are held in Jail No. 4, Vinay, 20, and Mukesh, 26, are in Jail No. 7.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde yesterday called for introspection by senior government officials on low conviction rate in crimes against women and sought corrective steps for time-bound punishment to the guilty.

Addressing a meeting of directors general of police and chief secretaries of states on curbing crime against women and atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), Shinde said the brutal gang-rape of a woman here last month had led to various sections of society echoing concern about the safety of women.

He said the role of government agencies had also drawn critical comments.
Shinde earlier launched a pilot programme of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS) and said the home ministry would launch citizen-centric services such as online registration of complaints and tracking of first information reports by April.

Shinde said it was "not acceptable that women should live in fear and anxiety".
Citing figures of the last three years, which showed conviction having taken place only in about one-eighth of cases of crimes against women, he said prompt action against all offenders would bring respect for law.

"This conviction needs introspection. Why we failed: whether investigation, whether lethargy or ineffectiveness of law," Shinde said.

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