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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 18:36 GMT
Men quizzed over Mumbai 'assault'
Gateway of India
The Gateway of India - one of the country's most famous landmarks
Police in India's financial capital, Mumbai, have questioned five young men in connection with the alleged assault of a woman on New Year's eve.

The woman had her clothes torn in the incident at the Gateway of India, one of the country's most famous landmarks.

The alleged attack was caught on camera by a photographer for a local paper. Pictures of the men questioned have been widely publicised in the media.

Police say they cannot take action unless the woman presses charges.

Three of the men have been charged with mobile phone theft. The other two are to be released, police say.

Deputy commissioner of police, Brijesh Singh, told the BBC: "If she comes forward and identifies them, we will definitely charge the concerned people."

Safety debate

Police say the five young men had gone to the Gateway of India to pick pockets and steal mobile phones.

They are accused of snatching the girl's cell phone, after which a struggle broke out in the crowds who had gathered. A male friend with the woman tried to protect her but was himself attacked.

The BBC's Monica Chadha in Mumbai says the incident has sparked renewed debate about whether the city is safe for women.

Last April, a former policeman was jailed for 12 years for raping a teenage girl in daylight while on duty at a police check post. In August 2005, a woman was stabbed to death at the Gateway of India, also in daylight.

However, lifestyle editor for TimeOut magazine and Mumbai resident, Divia Thani-Daswani, believes it is still the safest city for women in India.

"I think this was a freak accident... Given the size of Mumbai and the potential for crime here, I think it is still very safe.




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