NEW DELHI // A chart-topping Indian rapper known for sexually explicit lyrics was caught in a backlash yesterday against sexism and misogyny after the gang rape and murder that shocked the nation.
Yo Yo Honey Singh’s New Year’s Eve concert in New Delhi was cancelled after an online campaign highlighting lyrics that incite violence against women.
His 2007 song Prostitute refers to his 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.”
Amid low-key New Year’s celebrations after the gang rape on December 16, the upmarket Bristol Hotel in a suburb of New Delhi cancelled the rapper’s show.
The popular star, who sang in Bollywood films last year and has several top 10 hits, said he had called off the performance to “express my grief for the unfortunate girl”.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student was repeatedly raped and assaulted with an iron bar while being driven around in a bus for 40 minutes. She died from internal injuries in a Singapore hospital on Saturday.
Her boyfriend, who she had planned to marry next month, was badly injured in the attack.
A bone test was conducted yesterday to confirm the age of the youngest man in custody for the attack, and prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty for the other five.
Murder is punishable by death and rape by life imprisonment, but juveniles under 18 cannot be prosecuted for murder.
If the bone test determines that the man is 18 or older he will be treated as a legal adult.
Outraged Indians have been demanding the death penalty for the six men, holding demonstrations almost every day since the rape.
Police arrested a 37-year-old man in a slum in south-west Delhi yesterday accused of trying to plant a crude bomb near the house of one of six.
The low-grade device was filled with explosives usually used in fireworks.
The accused men will be formally charged in court tomorrow with kidnap, rape and murder.
There are about 30 witnesses and the charge sheet runs to more than 1,000 pages.
“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,” the home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said yesterday.
The victim’s boyfriend tried to prevent the rape and is likely to give crucial evidence during what is expected to be a fast-tracked trial.
Protesters and politicians from across the spectrum called for a special session of parliament to pass new laws to increase punishments for rapists – including possible chemical castration – and to set up fast-track courts to deal with rape cases within 90 days.
* With additional reporting by the Associated Press