India gang-rape victim was to marry in Feb: Neighbours

NEW DELHI - The murdered victim of a gang-rape in New Delhi was to marry her boyfriend who was injured in the same attack, neighbours who attended her funeral said on Sunday.

"They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi," Meena Rai, who had been shopping with the victim for wedding outfits, told AFP.

Usha Rai, who was also present for the cremation ceremony, added: "We know that she was going to get married in February."

Indian gang-rape victim cremated in private ceremony

NEW DELHI - The victim of a gang-rape and murder which triggered an outpouring of grief and anger across India was cremated at a private ceremony on Sunday, hours after her body was flown home from Singapore.

The unidentified 23-year-old, the focus of nationwide protests since she was brutally attacked on a bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, was cremated away from the public glare at the request of her traumatised parents.

The funeral pyre was lit after relatives and friends said their final prayers at a brief ceremony in the southwestern Dwarka district of Delhi, according to mourners who described the medical student as hugely popular and talented.

"I came because I really loved this girl. She was the brightest of all the girls in our neighbourhood," said Meena Rai, who was a close friend and neighbour.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the main ruling Congress party, were at Delhi airport to console the parents as they arrived home on a chartered plane with their daughter's body.

After initial treatment in a Delhi hospital, she was flown to Singapore on Wednesday night. But doctors were unable to prevent a multiple organ failure and she was pronounced dead in the early hours of Saturday.

Her death has prompted government promises of better protection for women, and deep soul-searching in a nation where gang-rapes are a daily occurrence and sexual harassment is routinely dismissed as "Eve-teasing".

Waves of protests have erupted across India since the attack on the night of December 16 when the woman was not only repeatedly raped but also sexually assaulted with an iron bar, leaving her with terrible intestinal injuries.

India rape victim dies in Singapore
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, AFP & Reuters)

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