Bangalore: Thousands of people from all walks of life, including young and old, men and women and boys and girls descended at the Freedom Park in the city centre Saturday to mourn the death of the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim in Singapore earlier in the day.
Braving a cold breeze and steady rain on a cloudy night, the grieving mourners, holding placards and banners with slogans like "Death for Rapists", "Protect Women/Girls from Crimes" and "Safety & Security of Women First", marched to the venue, lit hundreds of candles and placed them across the stage, praying silently for the departed soul.
As the news of victim's painful death spread across the city since morning, hundreds of youth came out of their houses in droves and gathered in groups outside schools, colleges and open grounds to demonstrate against the government, police and the system for failing to protect women and girls from atrocities against them.
"The innocent victim's death should not go in waste and the barbaric act against her by the six accused should not be treated like any other case but expedited through a speedy trial with death sentence," said Meenakshi Ganesh, a post-graduate student, at the venue.
Expressing solidarity with the victim's family, speaker after speaker called for overhauling the entire system, including the judiciary and executive to make it more responsive to women's safety and security and sensitive to their feelings.
"It is not only shocking, but also scary that the victim was not safe even in the company of her boy friend in the country's capital. Our hearts go out to her family and thousands of such victims who have been at the receiving end of sadistic men and perverts," thundered senior advocate and former lawmaker Pramila Nesargi.
Though about 100 policemen were deployed at the venue to maintain vigil and regulate the flow of crowds, they did not use force or interfere with the mourners and protestors from shouting slogans and raising voice against the government and the system.
"Inspired by the spontaneous response of the people, especially young girls and boys, I rushed to the venue despite rain after I learnt from local news channels about the gathering to join them and extend my support to their cause as I am also a father of two daughters and equally concerned about their safety and security though Bangalore is not as bad as Delhi or other cities," Prasanna Kumar, a sales executive, told IANS at the venue.
Expressing his condolence over the victim's death, Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka, who holds the home portfolio, told reporters earlier that the government would soon install dedicated helplines in all cities and towns across the state to register complaints on any crime committed against them and attend to them in quick response time.
"It is shame that such a gruesome crime was committed in the nation's capital resulting in her tragic death a fortnight later. We are taking stringent measures to ensure safety and security of our citizens, especially women and prevent such crimes anywhere in the state.
"I have instructed the police force to deal with any complaint by women firmly and speedily and sensitise their personnel to be serious about protecting women and girls from criminals and anti-social elements," Ashoka asserted.