A day after being assailed by allegations of incompetence and callousness from the surviving victim of the savage attack on a Delhi bus three weeks ago, the police hit back with denials on Saturday but failed to defuse public fury, and questions swirled about the investigation.
The friend of the 23-year-old student who died after being gang raped by six men in south Delhi on December 16 had told Zee News television channel on Friday that the police response had been delayed by squabbling over jurisdiction, and alleged that he had lain on a stretcher for four whole days after the event with a broken leg. He also alleged that a sub-divisional magistrate had discredited the original statement made by his woman friend.
Vivek Gogia, joint commissioner of police for the area where the victims had been dumped to die, told a news conference that two police vans had reached the site within nine minutes of having received a call, and there was no question of a tussle over jurisdiction because one of the vans left after administering first aid. Sources however told HT that within the first four minutes, another van had come to the spot but had left after the first of the two vans reached.
Gogia said that the victims had been rushed to Safdarjang, a public hospital, instead of a private facility, because medico-legal cases were routinely referred there.
He added that the friend had been kept at Vasant Vihar police station overnight and moved to a guest house the next day. Doctors at the hospital said that the focus of treatment had been on the girl, and that they had "not even been told" there was an injured man.
A government official chimed in to deny, off the record, that the victim's statement had been discredited by the sub-divisional magistrate -- but added that the SDM had been under police pressure.
"The police must make the common man their first focus. Once they do that, the orientation will change," said Kiran Bedi, a senior police officer-turned-activist.
Social media was unrelenting in its criticism. "Delhi police quarrelling over "Jurisdiction Issues" while two people lying on the road , crying for help and naked . Shame!! #delhi rape” went a Tweet.
Police and the state government have been the target of wrath from protesters on Delhi streets after the rape. After sometimes violent protests near the Capital’s iconic India Gate and Vijay Chowk, the heart of Delhi was locked down.