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The killing of a 16-year-old girl in Delhi who was stabbed and bludgeoned to death in an alley as pedestrians walked on has sparked outrage over the safety of women in India.
According to CCTV footage of the incident, the teenager was accosted in public by a man, now believed to be 20-year-old Sahil Khan, who stabbed her more than 30 times and hit her with a concrete slab.
Several bystanders encountered the incident and though one man attempted to intervene and was violently rebuffed by the attacker, nothing else was done to stop him. No one called the police and after the killing her body lay in the alleyway untouched until it was spotted by a police informant about 30 minutes later.
According to police, Khan was in relationship with the girl and had decided to kill her after she tried to end it. He had allegedly used a knife bought two weeks ago, and had followed her from the market to the dark alley, where he attacked her.
“Sahil told us she humiliated him and passed objectionable comments about their relationship. This angered him and he decided to eliminate her,” a police officer told local media.
The attack prompted outrage from activists and politicians who demanded that more be done to protect women in the capital. Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, said on Twitter: “A minor girl is brutally murdered openly in Delhi. This is very sad and unfortunate. The criminals have become fearless, and there is no fear of the police.”
Swati Maliwal, from the Delhi Commission for Women, said the capital had become “extremely unsafe” for girls and women and that she had “never seen anything more horrifying than this in my career of so many years”.
“There were so many people when the murder took place, but no one helped the girl. Even if they would have shouted, maybe the girl could have survived,” said Maliwal.
The incident once again raised the issue of women’s safety in India, particularly at the hands of their partners. In November, there was similar outrage after a 28-year-old man was accused of chopping up his girlfriend, Shraddha Walker, into 35 pieces and disposing of her in a forest.
National statistics suggest the problem of violence against women is showing no signs of abating in India’s deeply patriarchal society. Delhi is regularly ranked as the most dangerous city for women in India, and between 2020 and 2021, there was a 40% increase in crimes against women, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.