Video of the incident, which lasted for more than a minute and was captured on security camera, shows multiple people walking close by as the attacker repeatedly strikes the victim.
Only one man is shown attempting to intervene, trying to pull the attacker off the victim before quickly retreating.
The body of the victim, who has not been identified, was found Sunday evening in the Shahbad Dairy area of the northern Delhi neighborhood of Rohini, where the incident took place.
On Monday afternoon, Indian police said they had arrested a male suspect named Sahil in connection with the murder.
Sahil, a mechanic, was detained in Bulandshahr in neighboring Uttar Pradesh state, Ravi Kumar Singh, Deputy Police Commissioner for Outer Delhi, told reporters on Monday.
Delhi’s Special Commissioner of Police Deependra Pathak told Indian news channel Times Now that the initial investigation pointed toward a so called “crime of passion.”
“I saw my daughter was lying on the ground, with her face to the ground,” the girl’s father, Janak Raj, told CNN. “Her organs had come out and her head had been smashed in. She lay there lifeless. There was no point in taking her to hospital.”
“It angers me to know that no one helped my daughter,” he added. If they had helped her, she would have been alive today. I also heard that the bystanders were busy filming videos of the incident. Even if they had screamed, it would have helped my daughter.”
Raj said his daughter helped the family’s finances by tutoring. “I don’t feel alive today,” he said through tears. “I miss her so much. She was such a good child. What do I do?”
The incident is the latest in a long line of killings and rapes that have triggered anger about whether enough is being done both to protect women in India and punish attackers.
“A minor girl is brutally murdered openly in Delhi,” Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote on Twitter. “This is very sad and unfortunate. The criminals have become fearless, and there is no fear of the police.”
“The safety of the people of Delhi is of paramount importance,” he added.
Swati Maliwal, chairperson of the Delhi Commision for Women, told ANI she’s never seen such a frightening incident.
“Delhi has become extremely unsafe for women and girls,” she added.
India has long struggled to address gender violence. A 2018 Thompson Reuters Foundation survey of experts on women’s issues ranked the country as the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman.
The frequency of crimes against women in India also appears to be increasing. According to data from India’s National Crime Records Bureau, crimes against women were 20% higher in 2020 compared to 2013 – the last year before the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power.
Activists say the real statistics are likely just the tip of the iceberg, given that many forms of violence against women, such as rape, are often underreported.
Yogita Bhayana, founder of People Against Rapes in India, said the problem is largely rooted in old societal norms.
“We learn to live with this kind of situation in our country which is very unfortunate,” Bhayana told CNN. “The basic patriarchal fabric is totally rotten and right now we need to fix that.”
“Putting cameras and putting marshals is not going to be enough,” she added. “The work has to be done on the mindset of the men and the boys.”