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Delhi outrage: Woman shot dead for standing up to molesters

Barely two months after the gang-rape and murder of a young woman in a moving bus in Delhi, another outrageous instance of sexual harassment and murder of a young woman in public has been reported from the national capital.

Late on Sunday, a 25-year-old woman was shot dead, allegedly by two youths, at a south Delhi bus stop when she objected to his sexual harassment in public. Both the attackers have been arrested.

The two youths were apprehended by the people at the spot and handed over to police. They are said to be residents of Abu Fazal Enclave in Jamia Nagar.

The victim, identified as Pooja, a resident of Bhajanpura in northeast Delhi, was standing along with her husband Mohan Prasad at the busy Sarai Kale Khan bus stop, on the arterial Ring Road,  in east Delhi at about 8 pm when two men on a motorbike approached her. According to police officials, who cited eyewitness accounts, the men passed lewd comments, made obscene gestures and asked the woman to accompany them. She was taken to the AIIMS Trauma Centre where she died of her bullet injuries.

Delhi remains unsafe for women. A representational image. Reuters

Delhi remains unsafe for women. A representational image. Reuters

When Pooja rebuffed them, they drove away, but returned within minutes and harassed her again. Media reports quoting a police officer said one of the two men dismounted the motorcycle and attempted to grope her, at which point she raised an alarm and resisted. Her husband, who was with her, too fought back, at which point one of the two men pulled out a country-made pistol and shot her thrice.

Pooja was shot twice in her abdomen and once on her forehead.

Police officials said that the two men then attempted to flee on their motorcycle, but passersby managed to nab one of them and handed him over to the police. Pooja was rushed to the AIIMS Trauma Centre, but was declared dead on arrival.

The man who was nabbed was identified as Mushiram, a resident of Abu Fazal Enclave. Police have registered a case of murder and are on the hunt for Mushiram's accomplice, who fled the scene.

PTI reported, citing unidentified police officials, that Pooja and the assailants appeared to know each other, and that the incident was a case of personal enmity. But The Times of India quoted Additional Commissioner of Police (South East) Ajay Chaudury as saying that the police were still reconstructing the sequence of events, and were to establish the motive for the killing - or even whether the victim and the assailants were known to each other.

But the latest instance of sexual harassment and murder of a young woman in public is certain to revive outrage over the lack of adequate safety for women in Delhi, despite the heightened awareness from the gang-rape incident of two months ago. Ironically, the killing on Sunday night occurred at a time when a state of high alert had been declared in Delhi, and other cities, following the Hyderabad bomb blasts. All police stations had been directed to step up police patrol - and to maintain "high-visibility" security.

In fact, media reports claim that a PCR van was parked less than 50 metres from the bus stand where Pooja was shot dead.  Police officials claim they turned up within 10 minutes of their receiving an alert. But clearly even that was too late.