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Rape case overshadows Indian New Year celebrations

Shock and anger over the gang rape of student who later died take their toll on New Year celebrations in India.

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Indian police have arrested a man as he tried to plant a crude bomb near the home of one of the suspects in the New Delhi gang-rape case as a backlash against widespread sex crimes gathered steam.

As protests against harassment and violence against women continued, a chart-topping Indian rapper known for his sexually explicit lyrics also became embroiled in a growing campaign against sexism and misogyny in Indian society.

Yo Yo Honey Singh, whose hits include My Home My Village, saw his New Year's Eve concert in New Delhi cancelled following an online campaign which highlighted lyrics allegedly inciting abuse of women.

Staying out of the limelight ... Yo Yo Honey Singh.

Staying out of the limelight ... Yo Yo Honey Singh. Photo: Facebook

His 2007 track Prostitute refers to him having violent sex with a woman after he forces her to "dance naked" and includes the line: "You will scream and run but where can you go... I will take your life".

The furore over the rap star comes as the country comes to terms with the December 16 gang-rape in which a 23-year-old medical student was repeatedly assaulted and violated with an iron bar while being driven around in a bus for 40 minutes.

She died from internal injuries in a Singapore hospital at the weekend and her ashes were immersed Tuesday in the holy Ganges river by her family near their native village in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

The unnamed girl, whose parents had sold land to fund her studies, had been out to the cinema with her boyfriend when she was lured onto the bus by a gang of reportedly drunk joyriders.

Sexual violence and gang-rapes are commonplace in India, but the case has brought simmering anger - particularly among young urban women - to the boil and led to protests in the capital and calls for the death penalty for rapists.

Police said they had arrested a 37-year-old man on Tuesday in the narrow by-lanes of a slum in southwest Delhi after he allegedly tried to plant a crude bomb near the house of one of six suspects detained by police for the Delhi rape.

The low-grade device was filled with explosives usually used in firecrackers, a police official said.

Protests in India, which continued on Monday and on New Year's Eve, have also spilled to other parts of the world with people taking to the streets in Hong Kong, Islamabad, London and Kathmandu.

On Tuesday, about 30 women's rights activists protested outside the Indian consulate in Hong Kong, urging authorities to enact tougher laws to punish sex crimes.

The government, which has faced a wave of anger, has set up a panel headed by a former chief justice to recommend changes to the criminal law dealing with sexual crimes.

The panel, which was set up last week, had already received more than 17,000 suggestions until Monday, The Indian Express newspaper reported.

Also on Tuesday, the Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the six suspects for the gang-rape risked the death penalty if found guilty and the case against them appeared very strong.

"We have a solid case with very good evidence... a magistrate has recorded the victim's dying declaration and we have a prime witness, the girl's friend, who has identified the rapists," Shinde told The Economic Times newspaper.

The victim's boyfriend, whom friends said she intended to marry, tried to prevent the rape and is likely to give crucial evidence during what is expected to be a fast-tracked trial.

Police are to file charges and present their evidence against the suspects - five men and a minor - on Thursday.

Delhi police have said their probe is almost complete, pending the arrival of an autopsy report from doctors in Singapore and the conclusions of forensic experts.

AFP