Outrage over gangrape grows, Indian student still critical

New Delhi (The Statesman/ANN) - The brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in New Delhi on Sunday night continued to evoke public outrage.

Hundreds of students, women's organisations, children and others held protests demanding justice for the victim in various parts of the city yesterday, including in front of the chief minister's residence, Delhi Police headquarters, India Gate and Jantar Mantar.

The victim remained critical and underwent another surgery at Safdarjung Hospital today. Doctors attending on her said the next 48 hours will be crucial.

A Delhi court yesterday sent two of the arrested accused to four days' police custody while the third accused was sent to 14 days judicial custody. All three were produced before the court where two of them confessed to their crime. One of them said: "Hang me''. The fourth arrested accused was sent to five days' police custody yesterday. Reportedly, the fifth accused has also been arrested in Aurangabad district, Bihar and is being brought to Delhi.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the incident as "a heinous crime and very upsetting" when a delegation of women MPs met him.

He directed Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde to ensure the culprits are brought to book and such incidents are not repeated.

Shinde said in Parliament that there will be an immediate crackdown on buses having tinted glass and heavy curtains and if they do not remove them, they shall be impounded immediately. "All buses will be asked to keep their lights on while plying at night in Delhi and these must be parked with their owners and not their drivers," he said in the Rajya Sabha.

The fifth accused in the gangrape case has been identified as Akshay Thakur, who was arrested from Aurangabad, Bihar, and is being brought back to Delhi. However, deputy commissioner of police (south), Chhaya Sharma, denied the arrest and said that several teams have been dispatched to Bihar to nab Thakur but he is still absconding.

Meanwhile, taking suo motu cognisance of the gang-rape, Delhi High Court pulled up the city police asking how the offence remained undetected. "This incident is of great concern for all the citizens of the capital city as it relates to the safety particularly of women and girl children," a Bench headed by Chief Justice D Murugesan said and asked the Police Commissioner to file a detailed status report within two days. "There are two important questions. The first is the investigation in the case and the second is the preventive measures.

We want to know what measures have been taken by the police to prevent such incidents," said the High Court. A number of students of Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union, All India Students' Association, All India Democratic Womens' Association, and other organisations staged a protest in the morning in front of the chief minister, Sheila Dikshit's residence. water cannons were used to disperse them triggering anger among the protestors.

"Despite massive public outrage, the official response to this incident has been disappointing, with no one in office willing to take responsibility for the sorry state of affairs. And it is very strange that the government is using force to silence us," said Shilpa Jain, a student of Delhi University who was hurt during the protest after water canons were used to scatter the protestors.

Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan, who made an emotional speech in the House yesterday, today led a protest march outside the Delhi Police headquarters against police inaction and shoddy handling of rape cases. She expressed concern over the rising number of such crimes against women and urged the government to take stern action.

The central government will bear all the expenses of the treatment of the 23-year-old gangrape victim, the women and child development minister Krishna Tirath announced today after visiting the girl battling for her life in a city hospital and assured the distraught family of speedy justice.

"I have assured them that whatever is the expense of the treatment, the central government will bear it. I want my own ministry to follow the day-to-day developments in court and in two months a verdict should be pronounced," Tirath said at Safdarjung Hospital.

Calling the incident "very shameful for the country and the women of the country", she said the harshest possible punishment should be given to culprits in such crimes. When asked about the condition of the victim, Tirath said she could only see her from a distance as the victim has been kept in a separate room to prevent infection. "The victim had cried when her father met her," she said. "Her parents want maximum punishment. Women MPs have also said that...a verdict should be given in a couple of months.''



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