Two men face charges of raping and murdering a four-year-old girl in the town of Mandi Dabwali in Sirsa, India, while under the influence of drugs. The alleged crime is the latest in a series of rape cases that has seen the nation undergo debate, self-scrutiny and mass protests calling for greater punishments for rapists and more measures to increase the safety of women.
Officers say the two men, identified by the aliases 'Chhiller' and 'Vikki', were on intoxicant capsules bought from a chemist at the time of the crime. Dabwali city Station House Officer Ravi Kumar said: 'The statement they (the accused) gave us is very disturbing. 'Pawan, alias Chhiller, and Vikas, alias Vikki, are friends and were the victim's neighbours.

'They consumed some intoxicant capsules from a medical shop on January 26. They watched two minor girls play outside their house on their way back.

'Vikki decided to kidnap the girl, and then took her to a secluded place near a pond where Chhiller was waiting. They first tried unnatural sex and then raped the girl.

'A postmortem of the girl revealed that when she regained consciousness, they threw her in the pond and she drowned,' he added.

The police struggled for several hours to find her body and used divers to scour the pond. She was cremated on Monday.

Senior Superintendent of Police Rajshri Singh went to the crematorium and assured villagers of strict action against the accused, The Times of India reported.

The intense debate surrounding rape in India was sparked when allegations emerged that a 17-year-old and five men gang-raped and severely beat a female student on a moving bus in the capital before dumping her and a male friend in the road.

The woman was so badly injured that she died of massive organ failure in a Singapore hospital two weeks later.

The outcry was so strong that President Pranab Mukherjee made an unusual call in a television state-of-the nation address on Friday for the country to 'reset its moral compass'.

Despite the mass public outcry over the rape, many Indians feel little has changed as a result, especially as a number of high-profile rape cases such as this have occurred in the month since the student died.

Indian columnist Sunanda Vashisht wrote: 'The sheer brutality of the incident jolted every Indian out of stupor. There was lot to be ashamed about.

'The unspeakable tragedy of a young woman training to be physiotherapist had actually succeeding in waking us all up.

'Men and women, old and young, stood at India Gate braving water cannons, asking for better security, tougher laws and stringent punishments for offenders. It was truly a proud moment to see something positive coming out of the tragedy.

'However, the silver lining only lasted so long.

She added: 'No heads have rolled, no one has claimed responsibility for the bus with suspended permits and illegal tinted windows on the roads.

'No one has claimed responsibility for the deteriorating law and order in Delhi, the argument being this was not the first case of violence against women in the national capital.

'In short, those who were responsible for the ghastly incident were slowly and surely made to slide off the headlines.'