Woman's family wanted quiet cremation, says Congress

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 31, 2012 16:11 hrs

New Delhi: The Congress on Monday denied that the cremation of the Delhi gang-rape victim was done in secrecy, saying it was held quietly in accordance with the wishes of the woman's family.

Congress hit out at BJP for making "outrageous" comments after the opposition party accused the government of being interested in doing "drama" over the Delhi gangrape incident and questioned the "secrecy" maintained on the girl's cremation.

"BJP is being outrageous. There is no question of doing anything secretly or hurriedly. Nothing was done without the consent of the parents of the girl," party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary told reporters at the AICC briefing here.

She said that family members of the girl "did not want public space" for the cremation of the mortal remains of the 23-year-old girl here on Sunday.

"They wanted that moment to be with their child alone. There was a certain dignity in their demand for privacy at that moment," Chowdhary said.

"Nothing was done without the consent of the family, and their wish for privacy... they wanted it," said Renuka.

Addressing a news conference, Chowdhury said the quiet cremation, held at 7.30 a.m. Sunday a few hours after the body was brought here from Singapore, is "what the family wanted... and we must respect that. There is no question of it being done secretly".

She added that the country must "collectively work" to make society safer for women. "We need to sensitise society, the media, citizens, the government - all need to play a collective role for zero tolerance for such crimes."

The 23-year-old woman, who was gang-raped on a moving bus here Dec 16, died in a Singapore hospital early Saturday. Her body was flown to India at 3.30 a.m. Sunday and the cremation was held within a few hours.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party had slammed the secrecy surrounding the cremation, and accused the government of enacting a "drama" over it.

Accusing the government of being interested in performing "drama" over the gangrape issue, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had earlier disapproved the "covert way" in which the government conducted the cremation.

"We condemn the way the government maintained secrecy regarding the cremation of the girl. If people had known about the venue of cremation what harm would it have done? They kept misguiding us," Swaraj had said.

Swaraj attacked the government for conducting the cremation in "secrecy" and reiterated her party's demand for a special session of parliament.

"We have said we will not celebrate the New Year. But not celebrating will not be enough. This year (2013) should be dedicated for safety of women. Even if they (government) don't call a special session, the budget session should be used for amending all laws for protecting women," said Swaraj.

"If we can do all this in 2013, I will say (the victim's) sacrifice is not wasted. That will be the real tribute," she said at a condolence meeting organised by the BJP for the gang-rape victim in the capital.

"Whether it is in the special session or budget session, some days should be dedicated completely to make laws on crimes against women more stringent," she said.

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