New Delhi: A series of peaceful marches and protests were held on Saturday in the national capital, including one at Jantar Mantar, to mourn the death of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim, even as India Gate and Raisina Hill were kept out of bounds for people.
Policemen were deployed in strength in and around India Gate and Raisina Hill as well as other parts of New Delhi to ensure that the protests remain peaceful, besides shutting down some stations on the Delhi Metro.
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit requested home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to lift restrictions on holding peaceful demonstration in memory of the victim in and around India Gate.
Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University marched from their campus to the Munirka bus stop where the victim had boarded the bus in which she was allegedly gang-raped and brutally assaulted on 16 December by six men. The students announced they will hold a night vigil at the same spot on New Year’s Eve demanding strong laws to punish sexual offenders.
Activists of Left parties staged a peace march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar led by Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Brinda Karat.
“Unless we do this, such incidents will repeat,” Karat said. Asked about sexist comments by politicians, she said it shows the mind set of people and that “action should be taken against them in Parliament”.
At Jantar Mantar, a number of people sat in silent protest beginning around 10am, but this was later followed by the shouting of slogans and demands for immediate punishment of the culprits.
Aam Aadmi Party leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Kumar Vishwas also joined the protest with some of their supporters.
“Her death is a matter of shame and sorrow for all of us. Let’s resolve that we will not let her death go in vain,” Kejriwal posted on Twitter. “Aren’t we all responsible for her death? Can we all now do something so that half of humanity starts feeling safe amongst us?”
“The government is not even allowing mourning of the death. This is insensitivity. There is complete lock down. You have the Metro stations shut. You have a road completely blocked. This is undemocratic,” a protester Sunil said.
Sisodia said the government was muzzling the voice of people by shutting the Metro and closing down India Gate.
“This is a moment of national grief. This is also a moment of national shame. We, as a nation, have failed to provide conditions in which women can lead a normal life without being subjected to indignities. We, as a society, have failed to evolve a culture of respect and equality for women,” the AAP said in a statement.
“This event and the subsequent developments have no doubt generated widespread outrage and justified anger. But today we must convert this into a positive resolve. Let us all resolve that we shall convert this moment into a movement to end all forms of violence against women. Let No Violence Against Women be our national new year’s resolution,” it said.
In tweets, activist Kiran Bedi said, “Today is a day of reflection and personal audit on the way we as parents and teachers are grooming boys in this country. Today is day of mourning on lives we have lost because of failure of our criminal justice system and resolve to not fail it in future. Today is a day to also reflect the way we project our women in media,” she said.