The 20-year-old woman, killed in the early hours of New Year after her scooter was hit by a car, was dragged for 12 kilometres under the vehicle on the city's roads, police said and added culpable homicide among other stringent sections on Monday in the case following protests over alleged "shoddy investigation".
Police said that the victim's body was found naked on roadside in Kanjhawala area in outer Delhi and a medical board conducted a post-mortem on Monday, which will establish if she was sexually assaulted by the accused.
As outrage mounted over the incident, officials said that the Union Home Ministry has sought a detailed report from the Delhi Police on the direction of Home Minister Amit Shah. The Delhi Police has also constituted an inquiry committee, headed by Special Commissioner Shalini Singh, and asked her to submit a probe report as early as possible, they said.
All five accused were sent to a three-day police custody on Monday. Prima facie, it is suspected that the accused were intoxicated at the time of the incident. Sources said that blood samples have been sent for medical examination to ascertain if the accused were under the influence of alcohol. The report is awaited.
New high-quality security camera footage confirmed horrific witness accounts that she had been dragged under the wheels for over an hour. A senior police said that the woman was dragged for around 12 kilometres following the accident.
Sole bread earner
The victim, who was the sole bread earner of her family, leaves behind an ailing mother and six siblings. The mother alleged that police were trying to "make it look like an accident" as she expressed dissatisfaction with their handling of the case.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed it a"rarest of rare crime" and demanded the strictest punishment for those behind the incident, while L-G V K Saxena said his head hung in shame over the "inhuman" crime. The victim's family demanded the death penalty for the accused.
Addressing a press conference here, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Sagar Preet Hooda said fresh charges could be added against the five accused arrested in connection with the case on the basis of the post-mortem report.
The accused have been booked on charges of culpable homicide (Section 304) not amounting to murder, causing death by negligence and criminal conspiracy, according to the police. According to Section 304 of IPC, whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years.
"The accused will be taken to the scene of the crime and their story will be verified. The timeline of events will be established on the basis of CCTV footage and digital evidence," Hooda told reporters. He said the victim's family is being updated about the investigation and assured that the police will gather all evidence to ensure that the accused get the strictest punishment.
A political slugfest erupted over the incident, with the Aam Aadmi Party attacking the BJP alleging that one of the accused — Manoj Mittal — is linked to it. It also accused the lieutenant governor of being "negligent" in the matter.
Delhi BJP leaders said the accused should be given the strictest punishment if found guilty and claimed that its rivals were indulging in politics over a sensitive issue. They also said Manoj Mittal, one of the five accused, was the co-convener of the data entry cell of the BJP's Mongolpuri ward unit.
Amid allegations of "shoddy investigation", Lt Governor V K Saxena directed Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora to "strictly" examine if there were any "lapses" on part of the police. The victim's mother told reporters that she kept pleading with police to allow her to meet her daughter, but was later informed about her death.
"She worked at an event management company and told me she was going to an event and would return late. I was waiting for her," she said. I spoke to her at around 9 pm the same day and she said she will be home soon." The victim's autopsy was conducted under the supervision of a medical board at the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) premises.
Deepak Dahiya, who claims to be an eyewitness to the incident, said the woman's body was dragged for one and a half hours on the city's roads in Sultanpuri area. "The body was visibly stuck under the car which made three rounds on the Kanjhawala Road taking U-turns after every few kilometres. Police just kept calling me and asking where I saw the body.
"I made a PCR call at 3.18 am, however, the first PCR call about the incident was made from Begumpur an hour before," Dahiya told PTI. Earlier in the day, scores of people gathered outside the Sultanpuri Police Station and blocked traffic demanding punishment for the accused.
"At the time, when people are wearing five layers of clothes in winter, then what’s the likelihood of her being found naked," one of the protesters said. Malti, an aunt of the victim, said, "Police called us and informed us that our girl had met with an accident. We demand death for all who are responsible for her death. They did enormous damage to her family and must be punished."
AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj shared a video with media claiming that a hoarding outside the Sultanpuri Police Station, where the accused is currently lodged, bears the picture of Mittal. Several other AAP leaders and workers gathered outside LG Saxena's residence at Civil Lines and demanded his resignation. Bhardwaj alleged police were trying to cover up the matter because one of the culprits is a BJP member.
Delhi BJP's media cell head Harish Khurana said Bhardwaj calling the Sultanpuri incident collusion between BJP and LG "is very shameful. BJP strongly opposes this entire incident and demands the hanging of all the accused involved in it." "Instead of doing politics, AAP should get the entire matter investigated through a fast-track court," he said.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate tweeted a purported poster of one of the arrested accused Manoj Mittal. "The five 5 people were so drunk in Delhi that they dragged a 20-year-old girl for 12 kilometers and killed her. "One of these savages Manoj Mittal is the co-convenor of BJP. Why do these savages have a BJP connection every time? Will PM Modi/ Smriti Irani keep mum as always," Shrinate tweeted in Hindi.