Nationwide anti-rape protests continue; Delhi braveheart laid to rest
Five people were detained after the peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar was marred by violence on Sunday.
New Delhi: Anti-rape protests and strict punishment for the six accused in the brutal gangrape and murder of the 23-year-old Delhi braveheart continued on Sunday too even as her last rites were performed in extreme secrecy in the national capital.
Prayers, candle-light vigils and rallies as part of spontaneous peaceful protests continued to be held in a somber atmosphere of grief in several cities on Sunday. However, five people were detained after the peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar was marred by violence on Sunday. A group of protestors clashed with the police on being denied permission to take out a march. The protests were confined to a single area, unlike last week when protests raged up throughout the capital.
The Rapid Action Force was called in to manage the crowd and the situation was quickly brought under control. The incident occurred even as a group of protesters sat on a one-day hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in the heart of capital while others shouted slogans holding placards in their hands. A group of protesters also painted slogans and graphics on sheets of paper spread on the road.
In Andhra Pradesh, college and school students took out protest marches and staged demonstrations in Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Kurnool and Warangal, among other towns.
Women's groups, youth associations and political parties organised protests and shouted slogans at various places. Scores of people, mostly students, held a candle-light vigil at Tank Bund in Hyderabad.
People across Chandigarh observed prayers in memory of the victim. Various political outfits, cutting across party-lines, also joined in the mourning and demanded that the guilty be given the severest of the punishments. In Bangalore, protesters staged a march that culminated in Town Hall.
Mumbai Pradesh Youth Congress organised candle light marches at Azad Maidan and suburban Jogeshwari to pay homage to the 23-year-old girl who died on Saturday. The youth wing has demanded capital punishment to the perpetrators of the crime, saying they will send a letter to AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi to raise this demand in Lok Sabha.
Processions were taken out at Kotdwara, Pauri and Srinagar and several villages to demand speedy punishment for the rapists. Members of the International Human Rights Protection Council took out a candle light march from Dilli Gate to Delhi Police Headquarters in ITO area. Scores of people took part in the march and shouted slogans demanding protection for women.
They also wanted civil society to be part of the measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents. Candle light marches were held in several parts of the capital, including at Red Fort.
Meanwhile, the BJP questioned the government's decision to perform the last rites of the 23-year-old girl and said that step raises a lot of questions. "The last rites of the victim's body in a hurried manner was avoidable. We understand the right of privacy. But this raises lot of curious questions," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Minister of State for Home RPN Singh, however, said, "We wanted to respect the privacy of the family. Even the media has done the same. We had no intention to perform the last rites of the girl secretly. The funeral was done according to the wishes of the family."
The hitherto peaceful protest turned violent at around 1 pm when a group among the protesters tried to take out a march from Jantar Mantar to Connaught Place but police prevented them from moving ahead, following which the clash erupted.
While one group went ahead with the peaceful protest, another group tried to break the iron barricades and police called in more reinforcement. Protesters managed to break some of the barricades but police immediately contained them.
At Jantar Mantar, young and old, men and women gathered at the epicentre of protest from morning in an outpouring of grief and anger at the rape and death of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student. A group of protesters sat on a one-day hunger strike at Jantar Mantar while others shouted slogans holding placards in their hands.
India Gate and Raisina Hill, where violent protests had taken place last week, remained out of bounds for public on Sunday as hundreds of policemen in riot gear guarded the area and kept a hawk's vigil.
Meanwhile, five out of the ten metro stations in Central Delhi, that were closed down for anindefinite period in the wake of the death of the Delhi braveheart, were opened on Sunday afternoon. The stations which opened are Pragati Maidan, Mandi House, Barakhamba Road, Rajiv Chowk and Patel Chowk.
The body of the Delhi braveheart was laid to rest in the national capital amid heavy deployment of Delhi Police and RAF personnel. The last rites were performed under a dense cover of fog. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh, West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra, Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta also attended the last rites.
Media was not allowed at the site. A special aircraft of Air India carrying the mortal remains of the victim, who died in Mount Elizebeth hospital on Saturday morning, landed at IGI airport in New Delhi at around 3.30 am.
Some hotels, clubs and business houses dropped or toned down New Year's Eve party plans, as the death of the Delhi braveheart has cast a shadow on revelry. The Press Club of India (PCI) cancelled its New Year's Eve celebrations in New Delhi while a Congress MLC in Maharashtra Charan Singh Sapra appealed to people to stay away from merrymaking.
Following nation-wide grief and anger over the death of the 23-year-old girl, the Punjab and Haryana governments have also cancelled their planned programmes to usher in the New Year, officials said in Chandigarh.
The death of the paramedical student has stirred emotions across the country with people holding candlelight vigils, protests and silent marches to mourn her death and demand justice for her.
Police have slapped murder charges, which has death penalty in rarest of rare cases, against the six accused and will file the chargesheet against them on January 3. Investigators said they will seek the harshest punishment for the culprits.
With Additional Inputs From PTI