NEW DELHI -- The body of a young woman who was raped in New Delhi this month by several men in a moving bus was brought home Sunday, a day after the police said that six men accused of attacking her had been charged with murder.
Airport security sources said the plane arrived from Singapore in the cargo area of Indira Gandhi International Airport at 4:15 a.m. Sunday and that the body was whisked away through the old domestic terminal. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, president of the governing Congress party, received the body along with senior police officials amid growing public pressure on the government machinery.
The 23-year-old victim was cremated at a private ceremony in southwest New Delhi, the local news media reported. In attendance at the ceremony, which was closed to the news media, were family, friends and a handful of politicians. Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of Delhi, who had been booed away by protesters on Saturday, was spotted leaving the crematorium, a Reuters report said. There was heavy police deployment during the funeral.
On Saturday a police spokesman, Rajan Bhagat, said that the six men would be charged with murder. If convicted, they could face the death penalty in the Dec. 16 attack, which shocked India because of its savagery, led to violent protests and prompted demands for improved protection for women as well as calls for the death penalty in rape cases.
The country's Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that the death penalty should be used only in the "rarest of rare" cases, and fewer than 50 people have been executed since India's independence in 1947.
The woman, who has not been identified, has become a symbol for the treatment of women in India, where rape is common and conviction rates for the crime are low. She boarded a bus with a male friend after watching a movie at a mall, and was raped and attacked with an iron rod by the men, who the police later said had been drinking and were on a "joy ride."
She died Saturday morning in Singapore, where she had been flown for treatment for the severe internal injuries caused by the assault.
She had an infection in her lungs and abdomen, liver damage and a brain injury, the Singapore hospital said, and died from organ failure.
Her body was flown back to India on Saturday.
As news of her death spread Saturday, India's young, social-network-using population began to organize protests and candlelight vigils in places like the western city of Cochin in Kerala, the outsourcing hub of Bangalore and New Delhi, the capital. Just a tiny sliver of India's population can afford a computer or has access to the Internet, but the young, educated subset of this group has become increasingly galvanized over the New Delhi rape case.