New Delhi: Amid an outpouring of anger and grief in the country, the body of the 23-year-old medical student who was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus in Delhi, was flown to the national capital from Singapore early this morning and cremated within hours.
The parents of the student and her body were flown to Delhi in a special Air India aircraft. After landing at 4:15 am at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the plane was taken to its technical area, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were present. Dr Singh and Mrs Gandhi spoke to the family members and consoled them.
The body was then taken to the student's Delhi residence, before being cremated. Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh, West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra, Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta were present at the cremation. The family had sought privacy and the media was not allowed at the crematorium.
The woman was gang-raped and tortured by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi on the night of December 16, a Sunday. A male friend escorting her back home after watching a movie at a mall was also beaten badly by the men on the bus. The attackers then threw the couple out of the bus at a flyover, where they were found by a passer-by who called the police.
The young woman fought hard to survive. In the Intensive Care Unit of the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi she scribbled messages while on life support to tell her family that she wanted to live. She also asked if her assailants had been caught. The six men accused of the horrific assault have been arrested and were yesterday charged with murder. The government has promised daily hearings in the trial, which is expected to begin this week on January 3.
A team of top doctors, who attended to the girl praised her for her grit and fighting spirit. But the damage to her body was too severe. In India she underwent three major surgeries in 10 days - including one in which her intestines had to be removed - and also suffered a cardiac arrest. Last Wednesday, as her condition worsened, she was taken in an air ambulance to Singapore and was being treated at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital, which specialises in multi-organ transplant facilities.
But the hospital said that the best efforts of a team of eight doctors could not help the young woman, so grievous were her injuries. She died early on Saturday morning, after severe organ failure. Her parents were by her side.
India woke up on Saturday to the news that the young woman had died; while she fought for life in hospital for 13 days, there were massive protests in the capital and in other cities demanding speedy justice, more stringent anti-rape laws and better security for women. Demonstrations turned violent last weekend when the police tried to stop protesters from marching towards Rashtrapati Bhavan.
When she died, the protesters went silent in mourning. Thousands of people poured out onto the streets yesterday to light candles; some lay on the roads with black bands across their mouths and some just marched. All of them grieved.