Singapore medics battle to save gang-rape victim

Doctors in Singapore battled on Thursday to save the life of an Indian student who sustained horrific injuries in a gang-rape, after she was dramatically airlifted from a hospital in New Delhi.

As India's prime minister vowed that the 23-year-old's attackers would face swift justice, doctors at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital described her condition in the intensive care unit as "extremely critical".

Dr. Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer at the hospital said in a statement: "As at 7pm (1100 GMT) the patient remains in an extremely critical condition. She is under treatment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

"Prior to her arrival, she has already undergone three abdominal surgeries and experienced a cardiac arrest in India.

"A multi-disciplinary team of specialists is taking care of her and doing everything possible to stabilise her condition."

The Indian government, which is paying for the woman's treatment, approved the decision to transfer her from Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital where she had been treated.

The victim's relatives accompanied her to Singapore.

"Since the day of the incident, it has been our endeavour to provide her the best of medical care," Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said.

While doctors in Singapore gave no details about the treatment she has received since her early morning arrival, their counterparts at Safdarjung said Mount Elizabeth was chosen as it has a multi-organ transplant facility.

"With fortitude and courage she has survived the after-effects of the injuries so far, but her condition continues to be critical," B.D. Athani, medical superintendent at Safdarjung Hospital, told reporters.

 Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee's son, Abhijit, was criticised for describing some of the protesters as "dented and painted" women -- a phrase used by mechanics who mask rust on used cars with liberal coats of paint.

Among his most vocal critics was his own sister Sharmishtha who described his comments as "a bit of a shocker" and said her father also disapproved.

Earlier story:

Delhi gang-rape: Girl flown to Singapore

An Indian student who was left fighting for her life after being brutally gang raped on a bus in New Delhi arrived Thursday in Singapore for treatment at a leading hospital.

The attack sparked a wave of protests across India in which a policeman died and more than 100 police and protestors were injured.

The 23-year-old victim has already undergone three operations in India after suffering severe intestinal injuries during the 40-minute gang rape on December 16 in which she was also assaulted with an iron rod.

She was flown by air ambulance from Delhi overnight and arrived at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital early Thursday "in an extremely critical condition", the hospital said in a statement.

"She is being examined and the hospital is working with the Indian High Commission (embassy)," it said, adding she was being treated at its intensive care unit.

The head of the hospital which treated her in New Delhi hinted that the Mount Elizabeth Hospital, located in Singapore's Orchard Road shopping district, was chosen for its modern organ transplant facility.

"The said hospital has a state-of-art multi-organ transplant facility.

The arrangement has also been made for the family to accompany her as the treatment may take longer period," B.D. Athani, medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, said Wednesday.

"She has had to be operated upon three times. With fortitude and courage she has survived the after-effects of the injuries so far but her condition continues to be critical," he told reporters.

The decision to approve the 23-year-old's transfer was taken at a cabinet meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday and authorities have said the Indian government will cover the cost of medical treatment.

"We arranged the passport and visa for the victim and members of her family," a foreign ministry official told AFP.

India has said it is setting up a special commission of inquiry after the gang rape which occurred when the woman was allegedly tricked into boarding a bus by six men who then took it in turns to assault her.

Six suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack and have been remanded in custody.

Announcing the commission Wednesday, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said a separate panel would examine existing legislation and "suggest changes in the laws in order to make punishment for such horrific crimes stiffer".

"Whatever we do now is intended to demonstrate the government's serious intent in the matter that we will apprehend and punish the perpetrators, we will try and find out what went wrong... and fix responsibility and amend the laws," he said.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets since the attack to demonstrate both against the levels of violence and also the notoriously slow criminal justice system. (AFP)


Twitter alight again as State TV suspends 5 staffers for PM’s ‘Theek Hai’ gaffe

Five of state TV channel Doordarshan’s employees have been placed under suspension for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s faux pas at the end of his minute-long address yesterday.

What was meant to be a keystone address by Singh on women’s safety in India, seven days after the brutal gang-rape of the Delhi medical student, turned into a furious Twitter trend after the PM ended his speech with a ‘theek hai’ (all well?) comment.

The PM evidently directed the question – Theek Hai – at the television crew, but Indian masses took to Twitter and other social media sites, criticising for his lackadaisical attitude, wooden face and an unemotional speech at a time when the country is bubbling with anger.

Now, Indian daily The Hindu is reporting that five of Doordarshan’s staffers have been suspended because of the PM’s gaffe.

“Authoritative sources told The Hindu that the Prime Minister’s Office had given two time slots for recording to Doordarshan and ANI but apparently the Doordarshan team could not make it on time. ANI inadvertently decided to telecast the Prime Minister’s message live to 41 television channels with the last line “theek hai” not edited out,” reports the daily.

India’s tech savvy public has once again taken to Twitter to voice their angst against what they perceive is the authorities’ sheer incompetence in bringing justice to the victim by fast-tracking the case.

“Doordarshan techs suspended immediately but rapists don't face action for years... Very well said... Actually sab #theekhai,” tweeted Sapna (@sapna0509).

“It is reported that five Doordarshan employees have been placed under suspension for the faux pas” | Kya yeh Theek Hai?,” tweeted another Twitter use Barbarian Indian (@barbarindian).

However, the focus of the statement has now turned into a debate on Singh’s own status in the PM’s office. Surely all is not ‘theek hai’.

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