New Delhi: A day after
the gang-rape victim was quietly cremated here, loud protests
continued Monday against rising crimes against women and the
opposition reiterated its demand for a special session of
parliament to discuss strengthening anti-rape laws.
Under attack from the Bharatiya Janata Party for the "drama" over
the "hush-hush" cremation of the 23-year-old woman, who was
brutally raped on a moving bus Dec 16, the Congress said it was
done "in accordance with the parents' wishes".
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who went to the airport to receive
the woman's body early Sunday, has conveyed to party members and
well-wishers that she will not celebrate the New Year as a tribute
to the dead trainee physiotherapist and asked them not to wish her
on the occasion.
With the nation united in its feeling of grief and outrage over
the brutal rape and the death of the woman, the Indian Army and
several other institutions, including private clubs and
residential societies, decided either to have low-key New Year
celebrations or scrap them altogether.
At the Jantar Mantar, hundreds of protestors continued their vigil
at the 18th century masonry observatory that has become the
protest site since the horrific incident.
Undeterred by the biting cold and frosty winds, they sang songs,
raised slogans and some even performed a 'havan' - a ritual by
fire - for the departed soul. Monday was the season's coldest with
the maximum at 13 degrees Celsius and the minimum at 5.5 degrees.
The Delhi government has announced Rs.15 lakh compensation to the
woman's family and a job to one of her family members. She was the
oldest of three siblings and was about to get a job.
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who has been the target of ire of
the anti-rape protestors and was even booed out of Jantar Mantar
two days ago, made the compensation announcement. The chief
minister attended the cremation at Dwarka early Sunday.
Addressing a condolence meeting organised by the party, BJP leader
Sushma Swaraj lashed out at the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
government for the secrecy shrouding the cremation and demanded a
special session of parliament.
"I had asked the prime minister to call a special session (of
parliament). But my demand was rejected...I also asked them to
call an all-party meet. That demand was also rejected," she said.
Former army chief Gen (retd) V.K. Singh also joined the chorus for
a special session of parliament. Aam Admi Party leader Arvind
Kejriwal had a few days ago made the same demand.
However, the Congress rejected the BJP's demand for a special
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told IANS: "This issue is not an
issue that should be politicised."
"They are demanding a special session of parliament. This is no
secret that when parliament is in session, they never allow
parliament to function and when parliament is not in session, they
are demanding it. It is very strange."
Congress spokesperson Renuka Choudhary denied the cremation was
hushed up. "Nothing was done without the consent of the family,
and their wish for privacy... they wanted it."
Sources said that Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has written to
political parties inviting suggestions about possible changes in
existing criminal laws to provide for stricter punishment in rape
Expressing hope the mass outrage would lead the government to
frame stricter laws, activist Subhashini Ali, who was part of the
protestors at Jantar Mantar, told IANS the "situation will not
change overnight, but the fact that so many people are coming out,
in this cold and even spending the night here means something.
Laws are there already but they need to be implemented."
Lokesh Batra, an RTI activist: "Because we did not do anything, so
the situation continues to be the same. This pressure should
The social media, which has been a great contributor to
strengthening the movement for a safer environment, especially for
women, saw an online campaign being launched seeking cancellation
of popular rapper Honey Singh's New Year's eve performance at the
Bristol Hotel in Gurgaon. The outrage is over his use of crass
lyrics around women.
The US too commented on the gang-rape and the massive street
protests, calling for a change in "attitudes and (end) all forms
of gender-based violence".
The young woman was gang-raped on a moving bus Dec 16. She was
flown to Singapore last Wednesday night for treatment of her
grievous injuries sustained during her 40-minute ordeal. She died
in a Singapore hospital Saturday and was flown back early Sunday.