2 arrested in India over gang-rape of Israeli woman

Victim was attacked after accepting ride in vehicle carrying 6 men; police say manhunt underway for other suspects

Raoul Wootliff is a former Times of Israel political correspondent and Daily Briefing podcast producer.

The town of Manali Anoop Pandit,  in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh , India. (CC-BY-SA - Anoop Pandit/Wikimedia)
The town of Manali Anoop Pandit, in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh , India. (CC-BY-SA - Anoop Pandit/Wikimedia)

Indian police say they have arrested two men suspected of raping an Israeli tourist in northern India on Sunday, after she accepted a ride in their vehicle.

District Police Chief Padam Chand said Akshay Rana and Pankaj Sharma were detained on Monday and a manhunt was underway for others involved in the incident.

“Police are scanning the CCTV footage. As it was dark, the visuals are not clear, but we are hopeful of arresting all the accused,” Chand said in a statement, according to the local media reports.

The incident took place at around 3 a.m. Sunday near the town of Manali, after the woman, 25, tried to reach Kaza in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, the Times of India reported.

The woman had been trying to reunite with friends who had already left for the nearby town of Keylong after they all arrived in Manali a few days earlier. Unable to find a taxi, she accepted a ride in a vehicle without license plates that was carrying six men. The occupants assured her they would take her to Manali, where she could catch a taxi to Keylong.

At some point along the way, two of the men raped her, the woman told police. After the assault she was dropped off in Manali where, together with a friend, she reported the incident to police later that morning. She was treated in the Bilaspur Civil Hospital hospital after she reported the attack.

India hiked punishments for rapists as part of an overhaul of sexual assault laws in the wake of a fatal gang-rape in 2012 that shone a global spotlight on frightening levels of violence against women in India. But rape and sexual assault remain commonplace, with incidents hitting the headlines on an almost daily basis.

An American woman was raped in Manali in 2013 by three men when she took a ride with them in a truck. In 2012 an Australian woman was also raped in the same area, located in the picturesque Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh state.

Stuart Winer and AFP contributed to this report.

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