Two teenage boys have been arrested over the abduction and gang-rape of a two-year-old toddler, Indian police have confirmed. A large-scale police operation, which saw 20 police units question more than 250 suspects, has led to the arrest of the 17-year-old boys, in a case which has ignited public anger.
The two unnamed suspects have been accused of kidnapping the little girl during a power cut in the west Delhi Nangloi area on Friday. Neighbours found her lying unconscious at a nearby park bleeding profusely.
"Delhi police have solved (the crime) by apprehending two juveniles in the rape case of a child," Dependra Pathak, a Delhi police commissioner, told AFP. "Further investigation is [ongoing]. All concerned evidences are been collected," Pathak said, adding that the two teenagers who arrested late on Saturday will face preliminary charges in 10 days' time.
Both boys lived in the same neighbourhood as the toddler and one of them was known to her family, Pathak said. The two accused and the victim were at a Ramlila event in the neighbourhood on Friday night. Ramlila is a dramatic re-enactment of the Hindu religious epic, the Ramayana.
The girl was with her grandmother when she went missing after a 10-minute-long power cut in the area at around 11.30pm, according to the Times of India. Neighbours later found the child lying unconscious and bleeding in a park three hours later.
The girl's father has spoken about his regret of not attending the Ramlila event with his daughter, according to the Hindustan Times. He said: "She kept insisting I take her for the Ramlila but I did not. I knew drunk people come there at night. But she being so naughty ran from the house the moment she heard her favourite song playing at the venue. I wish I had taken her there myself."
In a separate incident, three men were arrested for the rape of a five-year-old girl who had been attacked in Anand Vihar, east Delhi, also on Friday. The two incidents come a week after a four-year-old girl was found dumped near a railway track after being raped and slashed with a blade in Delhi.
The assaults have caused uproar in India, with Delhi residents accusing the city's government of failing to protect women and girls. Activists have become more vocal after the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in December 2012 shocked the world.
The government responded by doubling the maximum prison term for rape to 20 years, created special courts to prosecute cases more quickly, and made voyeurism and acid attacks specific crimes under the law, according to AP.