NEW DELHI - Police were questioning two men Monday in the gang rape of a 25-year-old Israeli tourist who accepted a car ride while traveling in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
The woman, who had been looking for a taxi, got into the car in the hill resort of Manali before dawn Sunday to travel to a nearby town, said Padam Chand, a police superintendent in Manali.
There were six men in the car and two of them raped the tourist after stopping at a desolate spot, he said.
Two of the men were in police custody and a search was on for the other four. Chand said the men would be arrested if police found evidence that they were the ones involved in the gang rape.
"Arresting the four men who are absconding is our topmost priority. We have alerted police in all nearby districts," Chand told reporters late Monday.
Five of the men are Indian and the sixth is Nepali, he said. All are in their early 20s, Chand said, adding that police had impounded the car used in the assault.
Manali police were in touch with officials at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi and were keeping them informed about the progress in the investigation.
The picturesque hill resorts of Himachal Pradesh are very popular with young Israelis who travel in India after their military service, despite concerns about the safety of women.
Tourism in India has taken a hit after several sexual assault incidents involving tourists came to light.
In 2012, an Australian tourist was raped in Kullu valley, also in Himachal Pradesh. The next year, an American woman was gang-raped by three men in Manali when she took a ride with them in a truck.
Reports of rapes of women highlight the persistence of such violence in India despite a public outcry following the fatal gang rape of a young woman in moving bus in New Delhi in 2012.
Public fury over that case led to more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism and stalking. But many women say daily indignities and abuse continue unabated and that the new laws have not made the streets any safer.
Recently, a 20-year-old Indian college student said she was gang-raped again by the five men who raped her three years ago.