A lawyers' group has decided not to defend in court any of the men accused in the gang-rape of a teenager in Haryana last week.
The college student was on her way to a coaching centre near her village when she was dragged into a car and taken by three young men to a deserted field and raped on September 12. More men were at the field and took turns to rape the girl until she fell unconscious. She was later dumped at a bus stand.
Three accused have been arrested so far. Two others are still missing.
A lawyers' body in the district has said its members will not represent any of the accused. "We express our grief, and have decided that none of our members will represent them," said Ravinder Yadav, who heads the group.
Earlier this week, 25 villages sat for a Mahapanchayat and decided that no local lawyer would represent the accused. A bandh is also being observed at one of the towns today to show public support for the victim.
The girl's family alleges that the police initially refused to register their complaint. The incident assumed political colours after Premlata Singh, a BJP lawmaker from Haryana, blamed the "frustration" among unemployed young men as the reason for rising instances of rape across the country. "The frustration that has crept into the minds of our youths is one of the reasons behind such incidents. Youths who are frustrated, unemployed and unsure of their future commit such heinous acts," said the lawmaker, in comments widely condemned on social media.
Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress alleged a "complete breakdown of the law-and-order machinery" in the state.
"The chief minister should resign on moral grounds. The latest shocking incident is not an isolated one... Criminals were on the run from Haryana when the Congress was in power, but the crime graph has gone up ever since the BJP came to power," Mr Hooda claimed.
The authorities are only allowing close relatives to meet the girl at the hospital. "We took the step keeping in view the severe trauma. We believe allowing unrestricted access to visitors will be detrimental to her psychological health," said senior police officer Ashok Kumar Sharma.