New Delhi: Fireworks lit up the night sky and revellers danced, sang and hollered Happy New Year as India rang into 2013 though the celebrations in large parts of the country, especially in the national capital New Delhi, were muted as many continued to mourn and protest the death of a young Delhi paramedical student whose promising life was snuffed out by the brutal gangrape and attack on her on a moving bus on Dec 16 night.
Many people in India welcomed the new year with toned-down celebrations though wild , joyful celebrations were part of the New Year party in many cities like Kolkata albeit under the watchful eyes of thousands of cops who remained extra vigilant owing to the shadow of the Delhi incident and continuing reports of attacks on women across the country.
People thronged clubs and hotels to soak in the New Year party in Indian metros but the tragedy of the Delhi girl weighed down the national consciousness and many chose not to celebrate the New Year.
So while Kolkata's Park Street kept awake in a frenzy of celebrations and wore its garland of lights, in New Delhi many were on streets at Jantar Mantar to welcome 2013 with a resolve to fight for a world where women can move without the fear of being sexually attacked.
Jantar Mantar, where protest has been allowed, has become a temporary memorial to the girl with candles, flowers and condolence messages pouring in there by citizens.
The victim, who had been raped and brutalised with an iron rod by six men on a moving bus on Dec 16, died finally in a Singapore hospital Saturday and she was later cremated under heavy security on Sunday.
As a mark of respect for the woman and also sensing the sombre mood prevailing in the country, a number of official and private celebrations were also called off or toned down.
Sonia Gandhi, the powerful chief of India's ruling Congress party, as well as Indian Army were among those who announced that no celebrations were being organised for the New Year.
Several hotels, clubs and residents associations in the national capital also decided to either cancel planned festivities or scale back parties in a show of respect for the victim and her family.
President Pranab Mukherjee in his New Year message said that 2013 should be dedicated to welfare of women.
"We mark the advent of the New Year under a pall of gloom, as the nation mourns the tragic loss of a brave young girl who became the victim of a heinous crime," Mukherjee said.
Celebrities also tweeted with a message for menfolk to respect and protect the women.
"Wishing you ALL A Happy and Hopeful 2013. Love, Happiness, Peace & Respect for The HER among Us," tweeted actor Anupam Kher.
Actor Amitabh Bachchan said: "Happy New Year to all .. For a glorious 2013 .. But never forget what 2012 left us with. .."
Actor Shabana Azmi quoted Edmund Burke: "....All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...."
She earlier urged all to solemnly affirm in Gandhi's words that we will 'be the change we wish to see'