President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday appealed to protesters to remain calm and not get violent while protesting against the gang rape of the 23-year-old paramedical student. He said so even as a city police constable who’d been severely injured by demonstrators on Sunday died without recovering consciousness.
Delhi police constable Subhash Chand Tomar, severely injured by demonstrators two days earlier, died this morning. The police have filed murder charges against eight people of the Aam Aadmi Party, which is led by social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal.
Mukherjee said anger against the brutal incident was justified but agitators must remain peaceful while expressing themselves against such crimes. And, emphasised that people should inculcate the highest respect for women, with the youth having to take a lead in this area.
“I pray for the speedy recovery of the brave young girl. Criminal attacks against women often happen in the backdrop of negative perceptions about women. This must end,” he said at the ninth convocation of the Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad.
Meanwhile, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi during the core committee meeting of the Congress party about the series of protests. Senior Congress leaders suggested people give feedback and suggestions about the changes in the law to protect women to a committee headed by former Chief Justice J S Verma.
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit has alleged in a letter to Shinde that police officers had interfered and misbehaved with the sub-divisional magistrate (Usha Chaturvedi) who had gone to officially record the statement of the victim.
Dikshit has said the police didn’t allow the SDM to video-record the statement and instead wanted her to use a questionnaire prepared by the police to record the statement. Delhi Police has denied this and asked for an independent inquiry on the letter. As a result of the charges by the Delhi CM, the city police again recorded the statement of the victim before a metropolitan magistrate.
Dikshit also wants strict action against senior police officials for using force against protesters in the past two to three days at India Gate and surrounding areas during demonstrations. A senior Congress MP has also asked the Union government to remove Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar because of the violence against the agitators.
The Union government has also set up an inquiry on lapses by the police on duty on December 16, when the gang rape took place in a moving bus. It has asked a retired high court judge, Usha Mehra, to investigate.
The decision was taken after former Chief Justice of India J S Verma refused to club investigations into police lapse with changes in the law that need to be made to protect women against such crime. The government has asked the Verma panel (of three members) for recommendations within 30 days.