Delhi gangrape accused lived on margins of India's boom

Delhi rape

In a village in India's Uttar Pradesh state, a woman sits hunched on the ground in a green shawl, visibly weak and shivering in the January cold. She says she has not eaten for days, and neither have her five young children.

She has never heard of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, having never ventured further from her village than a nearby market town, and ekes out a living working in potato fields on other people's land.

Her eldest son left home when he was 11. He never returned, and the woman thought he was dead. The first news she got of him was when police from New Delhi turned up at her brick hut to say he had been arrested for the gangrape and death of a student, a crime whose brutality stunned India.

In an interview with Reuters, the mother of the juvenile, the youngest of six members of the gang accused of the attack, recalled the son who left home five or six years ago for the bright lights, and seemed stunned by the accusation against him.

"Today, the infamy he earned is eating me up," his mother said as villagers stood and stared. "I can't even sit with two other people in the village because of the shame that my son has brought to the family."

A 23-year-old physiotherapy student was beaten and raped on a moving bus in the Indian capital on Dec. 16. She was left bleeding on a highway and died two weeks later from internal injuries.

The five men who have been charged with rape and murder are all expected to plead not guilty. One says police tortured him.

The sixth member of the gang, the woman's son, is being processed as a juvenile and has not been charged. He will be tried separately.

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