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Indian woman's assault captured on video; four arrested

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Mon July 16, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • TV stations repeatedly broadcast video of a mob assaulting a woman
  • Police identify a total of 14 suspects
  • Of the 14, only four have been arrested, police say
  • If convicted, they face three years in prison, he said.

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Indian police arrested four suspects in the beating, stripping and assault of a young woman that was captured on video, authorities said Saturday.

TV stations repeatedly broadcast video showing a group of men molesting the woman after she left a friend's birthday party Monday night in Guwahati city in Assam state.

A total of 14 suspects have been identified, said J.N. Chaudhury, Assam's police chief. Of the total, four are under arrest and charged with counts of molestation, unlawful restraint, vulgar behavior and causing harm.

If convicted, they face three years in prison, he said.

Police are scouring others states as well for the additional 10 suspects, who could have fled from the region, according to authorities.

Investigators will rely on TV footage of the attack and witness statements to prove the charges, the police chief said when asked about the suspect's plea while in custody.

"In the Indian system, a confessional statement to the police is not admissible in court. We are collecting other evidence," he said.

The state chief minister ordered a high-level inquiry into the assault of the woman who police believe is around age 23, said R. Gogoi, the provincial government spokesman.

Official data show a spurt in crimes against women in India.

The country reported 228,650 cases of offenses against women last year, up from 213,585 in 2010, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

Federal authorities reacted swiftly as the video went viral on TV and online.

Indian home minister P. Chidambaram condemned the assault and urged state authorities to take "proper action."

A national women's rights watchdog said officers on duty that night should be suspended from their jobs.

Mamata Sharma, the head of the national commission for women, also appealed to court officials not to free the suspects on bail.

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