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Gang rape on public bus shocks India

Indian police have defended themselves after an assault in which a medical student was left fighting for her life following a gang rape on a public bus by saying only one third of their officers are now available for police work.

The police force in Delhi has over 80,000 officers, making it one of the biggest municipal forces in the world, but every day two thirds of those officers are needed for providing VIP security.

The result is a lack of officers on the streets to tackle crime, they say.

But on Sunday night a 23-year-old medical student who had been to a cinema with a friend was gang raped by a group of men when she climbed on the bus - and her friend was beaten senseless.

Both were then stripped naked and thrown off the bus which drove off. The young woman was left fighting for her life and will now be permanently disabled after doctors were forced to remove most of her intestines. Doctors say she would not be able to eat normally again and will have to be fed intravenously for the rest of her life.

Her family had spent their life savings on giving her a good education - hoping she could get a proper job and also in helping her younger brothers and sisters with their careers.

Before undergoing surgery she told doctors: "I want to live, save my life. But don't tell my family what happened to me."

Dr Bandur Athani, medical superintendent at the Safdarjung Hospital, said: "We have never seen such injuries, especially in a sexual assault case. She has immense fighting spirit."

Her brother said: "She was upset to see relatives in the hospital. She doesn't want anyone to know what happened to her. We told her no one knows about the incident and that the relatives had been told that she had met with a car accident."

The crime just before Christmas has shocked the country and put a spotlight on the growing crime problem, and the fact that so many officers are now engaged in providing security for politicians and visiting diplomats.

As the national capital, Delhi is not only the seat of Parliament and the Union government but also of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Supreme Court. In addition, there are embassies and visiting dignitaries to protect.

The incident has sparked a candlelight vigil outside the hospital where the women is being treated. Police have already arrested four men including the alleged driver of the bus that he had returned after apparently washing it to remove traces of blood. Her mobile phone and clothing were also recovered.

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