India’s Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah has asked for a report on the death of a young woman scooter rider who was dragged more than 10km by a car in New Delhi early on New Year's Day.
The car occupants said they had not realised that Anjali Singh, 20, had been trapped under the vehicle after a collision, under they saw her fall on to the road.
They left her body lying there and drove on, according to reports of police interviews.
Some politicians, members of the public and her family claim she was assaulted and murdered by a gang of drunken men.
Ms Singh's death occurred on a night when more than 20,000 police officers were patrolling the city.
Ms Singh had left a New Year party with a friend around midnight and was riding a scooter when she was in collision with a car in the capital's Sultanpuri area and her leg became trapped, according to reports.
Five men were arrested on Sunday night. They have been charged of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, causing death by negligence and criminal conspiracy, said police.
They claimed that they had not noticed Ms Singh until they made a U-turn and the body fell away from the car, according to reports. They drove on but a witness saw Ms Singh’s body and informed police.
Ms Singh’s widowed mother Rekha Singh claimed that men had raped her daughter because her body was found naked. However, an autopsy report on Tuesday ruled out sexual assault.
CCTV footage that showed Ms Singh was with her friend at the time of the accident but that she fled the scene with minor injuries.
“According to the girl, she was unhurt and she left after the incident. We traced her and have an witness. She is co-operating and her statement has been recorded. This will help in the investigation,” said New Delhi police commissioner Sagar Preet Hooda.
The Aam Aadmi Party, the ruling party in Delhi and rival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, has accused the federal government of pursuing a convoluted investigation and demanded the “strongest possible action against perpetrators”.
Hundreds of its activists protesting against the federal government and police on Monday and were dispersed by police using water cannon.
Swati Maliwal, chairwoman of the Delhi Commission for Women, who is also associated with Aam Aadmi Party, on Tuesday wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs suggesting a “lack of police resources and accountability” as a major reason for the high crime rate against women in the capital city.
New Delhi police report to Mr Shah’s office.
India also has one of the deadliest road networks and worst records for road accidents.
Each year thousands of people die in road accidents due negligent driving, faulty road design, lax traffic laws and corruption, making road accidents one of the biggest causes of unnatural death in the country.
At least 133,715 people were killed in road accidents in 2020, according to the latest figures from the National Crime Records Bureau.
Some 79,000 accidents were blamed on rash and negligent driving, but the overall conviction rates were between five to 10 per cent.