The 13-day suffering of the 23-year-old victim of a brutal gang rape in the capital came to an end on Saturday as she breathed her last in a Singapore hospital, leading to many developments in Delhi.
The paramedical student, who was gang raped in a moving bus in South Delhi on December 16, had been shifted to Singapore’s super specialty Mount Elizabeth Hospital on Thursday morning from Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital after her condition deteriorated.
She was declared dead at 4.45 local time (2.15 India time) on Saturday morning. Her death was caused by multiple medical complications.
The girl’s body and her family members are being flown back to India on Saturday by a special Air India aircraft. Her last rites would be conducted in her hometown of Ballia in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
In Delhi, fearing outrage over the death, 28 companies of paramilitary personnel carrying assault rifles and 12 companies of police blocked all roads leading to India Gate and Raisina Hill. The city administration also shut down 10 metro stations to stop people from reaching areas of central Delhi for protests.
However, most protests in Delhi and other parts of the country, though angry, were largely peaceful.
In Delhi, protesters who managed to gather at Janatar Mantar had covered their mouths with black cloth as a sign of protest.
“The home minister should explain what is the meaning of rarest of rare rape case’ when cases of assault against women are not even registered by the police. The son of President Pranab Mukherjee could only manage to spot girls in the protest but didn’t see the anger of the people,” said Anurag Kushwaha, a college student.
The students present at Jantar Mantar were so agitated about the crime that when Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit arrived to join the protesters, she was not allowed to join in and was forced to leave.
Trader organisations also came out in protest, urging people not to celebrate the New Year. “Let there be a national mourning and no celebrations of New Year in any way,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
Angry but peaceful protests were also reported from other parts of the country, where students and other citizens came out to express their anger against the incident.
In Mumbai, protestors gathered holding candles to support Delhiites against the crime and also to press for strengthening laws to stop crime against women.
School and college students joined protesters in Kolkata to demand speedy action against the accused.
Demands for changes in laws were also made in Kerala, where women organisations and political parties demanded strong action against the six accused.
Human rights organisations in Guwahati urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare December 29 as the National Day for Protesting Violence against Women.’
Meanwhile, political leadership cutting across party lines expressed their condolences. The opposition demanded a review of laws concerning rape, while the government promised justice for the victim.
“She was a brave daughter of India. She fought till the very last for her dignity and life and was a true hero. She symbolised the best in Indian youth and women. We must resolve that her death will not be in vain,” said President Pranab Mukjherjee.
“As a woman and a mother, I understand how you feel. I appeal to you to remain calm and help strengthen our collective resolve to fight the menace of violence against women. Today, all Indians feel as if they have lost their own beloved daughter, their cherished sister, a young woman of 23 whose life full of hope, dreams and promise was ahead of her. Our hearts go out to her parents, family, the whole country shares their pain. Today, we pledge that she will get justice and that her fight will not go in vain,” said Sonia Gandhi, UPA chairperson and Congress party President.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was forced to cut short his visit to Maharashtra and returned to Delhi after news of the girl’s death came.
“All our heads must hang in shame today that a young girl has fallen victim to brutal and beastly behaviour. She has been sacrificed to an environment in which women are not safe. We must now introspect as to how we can improve our laws, our judicial processes and most importantly the consciousness of the citizenry which creates a better environment where women can live with dignity,” said Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Senior officials of the Delhi Police who have now charged the six accused for murder, are confident that they would be able to file a charge sheet in the case by January 3 when the trial is expected to start in the case.
Special public prosecutor Dayakrishnan who has been asked to represent the government in the case, has decided not to charge any fee.