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Gang rape victim dies; peaceful protests in Delhi

(Reuters, IANS)
Filed on December 29, 2012

The 23-year old woman whose gang rape sparked protests and a national debate about violence against women in India died of her injuries on Saturday, prompting a security lockdown in New Delhi and an acknowledgement from the prime minister that social change is needed.

Khaleej TimesIndia’s leaders on Saturday condoled the death of young woman who was brutally gang-raped and tortured Dec 16 in the capital. The girl died in Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital early Saturday.

Here is what they said:

President Pranab Mukherjee: “She was a brave and courageous girl who fought till the very last minute for her dignity and her life. She is a true hero and symbolises the best in Indian youth and women. The nation will mourn the passing of this brave daughter of India. At the same time, let us resolve that this death will not be in vain. We will do everything possible to ensure that such an incident never happens again.”

Vice President Hamid Ansari: “A young, promising life has been brutally snatched away in most tragic circumstances. Not only has the family lost a daughter and a sister, but every Indian today is feeling the sense of loss. I hope this heart-rending tragedy would compel us as a people to focus on social norms and practices which are violative of human rights and an impediment to progress in the modern world.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: “I join the nation in conveying to her family and friends my deepest condolences at this terrible loss. I want to tell them and the nation that while she may have lost her battle for life, it is up to us all to ensure that her death will not have been in vain. We have already seen the emotions and energies this incident has generated. These are perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change. It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channelise these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action.”

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde: “Her death will not go in vain. There will be maximum punishment for the accused. This incident is a lesson.”

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad: “A brave and courageous girl who fought till the very last minute for her dignity and life. She is a true hero and symbolises the best in Indian youth and women.”

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj: “Her death has shaken the conscience of the nation. We must wake up and make India safe for daughters.”

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit: “Our hearts are burning with grief and shame and this is not the moment for speeches or words, but for deep reflection among ourselves, within ourselves.”

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi: “Deeply saddened and distressed by the news of India’s braveheart daughter passing away. My deepest condolences to her family.”

Goa BJP state president Vinay Tendulkar: “It is unfortunate and we condole the death of the rape victim. We support the demand for enhancing the maximum penalty for rape to death (from life imprisonmnet).”


We have heard your voice, says Sonia Gandhi

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said the government had heard the people’s voice demanding an end to crime against women.

“I want to assure you that your voice has been heard,” she said in a statement after the 23-year-old gang-rape victim died in Singapore earlier in the day.

Gandhi said she was aware that people had taken to the streets in large numbers in support of the victim.

As a woman and mother, she said, she shared the people’s concerns following the Delhi gang-rape and growing violence against women.


Lessons to be learnt from Delhi rape: Singapore minister

There are lessons to be learnt from the death of the Indian woman who was savagely gang-raped and tortured in a Delhi bus, a media report quoted a minister as saying.

Women are still treated as ‘inferior beings’ in many societies, wrote Minister of State for Social and Family Development Halimah Yacob on her Facebook page on Saturday, a day when the woman died in a Singapore hospital after battling for life for 13 days.

She gave the example of a Malaysian friend, the head of gender equality in a trade union organisation, who told off male trade unionists who made sexist jokes against women, reported Straits Times.


Wake up India, react B’wood celebs

The film fraternity took to Twitter to express its indignation over the gang-rape and her death after 13 days of struggle.

Amitabh Bachchan: ‘Amanat’, ‘Damini’ just a name now... her body has passed away, but her soul shall shall forever stir our hearts.

Shabana Azmi: And SHE PASSES AWAY in Singapore. RIP. Our impotence stares us in the face. May SHE become the wake-up call our country needs. We must soul search. Female foeticide; inequal access to nutrition, education, health; no decision making powers; dowry demands; rapes rampant. INDIA WAKE UP.

Shekhar Kapur: Her greatest betrayal is that we will forget. Political systems’ greatest hope is we will forget. Our only redemption is if we do not forget.

Mahesh Bhatt: Shut all temples where you pretend to worship the female form. Cry India! Your hands are drenched with the blood of your own daughters.

Shekhar Kapur: On 31st December, I will stand in silence in her memory. Will you, or will u party on?

Karan Johar: RIP to a brave girl who fought in a weak and paralysed country.. Shame on all of us.

Madhur Bhandarkar: RIP Damini, today is a dark day in our democracy. We should pledge not to let dust settle on this fight till the end.

Rape victim dies in Singapore, an entire nation mourns

Bracing for a new wave of protests, Indian authorities closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in the heart of New Delhi, where demonstrators have converged since the attack to demand improved women’s rights. About 100 people staged a peaceful protest on Saturday morning. The 23-year-old medical student, severely beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday for specialist treatment.

The attack has sparked an intense national debate for the first time about the treatment of women and attitudes towards sex crimes in a country where most rapes go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists.

“We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4:45 a.m. on Dec 29, 2012 (2045 GMT Friday). Her family and officials from the High Commission (embassy) of India were by her side,” Mount Elizabeth Hospital Chief Executive Officer Kelvin Loh said in a statement.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was deeply saddened by the death and described the emotions associated with her case as “perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change.

“It would be a true homage to her memory if we are able to channelize these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action,” Singh said in a statement.

Delhi’s chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, said the woman’s death was a “shameful moment for me not just as a chief minister but also as a citizen of this country”.

The woman, who has not been identified, and a male friend were returning home from the cinema by bus on the evening of Dec. 16 when, media reports say, six men on the bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. media said a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. Both were thrown from the bus. The male friend survived the attack.

The public outcry over the attack has caught the government off-guard. It took a week for Singh to make a public statement on the attack, infuriating many protesters who saw it as a sign of a government insensitive to the plight of women.

The prime minister, a stiff 80-year-old technocrat who speaks in a low monotone, has struggled to channel the popular outrage in his public statements and convince critics that his eight-year-old government would now take concrete steps to improve the safety of women.

Protesters, mostly young middle class students, fought pitched battles with police around the capital last weekend. Police used batons, water cannon and teargas to quell the protests, and sealed off the main protest sites.

Body to be returned home

T.C.A. Raghavan, the Indian high commissioner to Singapore, told reporters hours after the woman’s death that a chartered aircraft would fly her body back to India on Saturday, along with members of her family. The woman’s body had earlier been put into a van at the hospital and driven away.

Indian media had also accused the government of sending her to Singapore to minimise any backlash in the event of her death but Raghavan said it had been a medical decision intended to ensure she got the best treatment.

“She was unconscious throughout,” Raghavan said of her time in Singapore. “She died because of the severe nature of the injuries.”

Some Indian medical experts had questioned the decision to fly the woman to Singapore, calling it a risky manoeuvre given the severity of her injuries. They had said she was already receiving the best possible care in India.

On Friday, the Singapore hospital had said the woman’s condition had taken a turn for the worse and she had suffered “significant brain injury”. She had already undergone three abdominal operations before arriving in Singapore.

The suspects in the rape - five men aged between 20 and 40, and a juvenile - were arrested within hours of the attack and are in custody. Media reports say they are likely to be formally charged with murder next week.

Many Indians have called for the death penalty for those responsible.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told Times Now television on Saturday the government was committed to ensuring “the severest possible punishment to all the accused at the earliest”.

“It will not go in vain. We will give maximum punishment to the culprits. Not only to this, but in future also. This one incident has given a greater lesson” Shinde said.

He said earlier the government was considering the death penalty for rape in very rare cases. Murder carries the death penalty.

The case has received blanket coverage on cable television news channels. Some Indian media have called the woman “Amanat”, an Urdu word meaning “treasure”.

Commentators and sociologists say the rape tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership.

Many protesters have complained that Singh’s government has done little to curb the abuse of women in the country of 1.2 billion. A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.


Singapore transfer didn’t worsen woman’s condition: Doctor

As the Delhi gang-rape victim died Saturday, a doctor who flew with her to Singapore said the transfer from a hospital here did not worsen her condition.

Some doctors had criticised the decision to fly her abroad from Safdarjung Hospital here to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital Wednesday despite her cardiac arrest.

“She was transferred very safely to Singapore. In fact, she was in a similar condition when she was in Safdurjung. She survived for 48 hours after being transferred,” Yatin Mehta of Medanta Hospital told a news channel.

“She was a very sick when we flew her. But then, Mount Elizabeth (Hospital) has much superior facilities than Safdarjung. That point of time, she was very sick but not so sick that she could not be transferred. Although it was tricky, she was transferred smoothly,” he said.

“Her condition was serious when we took her from Safdurjung, but we had a full team.

“First half of the flight she was quite well... Then transiently, her blood pressure dropped. We put in the monitoring line and she responded well.

“When we reached Mount Elizabeth, she was in a similar condition as in Safdarjung,” he said.

He said the doctors did their best but her condition worsened.

“Her every organ was very badly effected. Body was badly mutilated. She was a very injured child,” he said.

“I felt very sad not only for the girl but also for the family. They were such a simple loving, rural family,” Mehta said.

“The father was accepting what was happening to the child because we were explaining everything honestly, but the mother was not.

“She went into denial. It is terrible for any parent for such a thing happening to a child,” he said.


Dikshit booed at Jantar Mantar

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was booed by angry crowds at Jantar Mantar here Saturday when she went to the protest site to pay her tribute to the gang-rape victim who died in a Singapore hospital.

Furious young men and women were furious when they saw Dikshit approach the gathering with her security personnel, and began shouting: “Sheila Dikshit wapas jao!” and “Sheila Dikshit go back!”

As she kept walking towards the site, the crowds became angrier and noisier. A shaken chief minister quickly lit a candle under a tree, bowed her head and quickly left.

All through her brief presence at the site, policemen jostled with the more militant ones in the crowd to keep them from reaching the chief minister.

The protesters kept screaming that they would not allow any politician to reach Jantar Mantar.

Jantar Mantar is one of two spots where Delhi Police have allowed people protesting the death of the rape victim to gather.


Unfair to close down central Delhi, say residents

Fearing largescale protests after the death of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim, the government Friday closed down large parts of central Delhi, a move that attracted major flak from citizens who asked what police was afraid of.

As the news of the death of the young woman filtered in in the early hours, the home ministry sounded an alert and deployed police and paramilitary forces around India Gate and Raisina Road in central Delhi to foil possible violent street protests.

Authorities shut down 10 metro stations around India Gate. With security forces in full force and roads around India Gate barricaded, the heart of Delhi turned into a fortress.

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat appealed to protesters to remain calm.

Protests were allowed at Jantar Mantar, where hundreds assembled to mourn the death of the woman who died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore where she was flown for treatment.

Shouting “We want justice” and “Hang the rapists”, protesters collected at Jantar Mantar. A few sat in silence with black ribbons tied to their mouths.

Police video-taped the crowds and had water cannons on stand by.

Lessons to be learnt from Delhi rape: Singapore minister

There are lessons to be learnt from the death of the Indian woman who was savagely gang-raped and tortured in a Delhi bus, a media report quoted a minister as saying.

Women are still treated as ‘inferior beings’ in many societies, wrote Minister of State for Social and Family Development Halimah Yacob on her Facebook page Saturday, a day when the woman died in a Singapore hospital after battling for life for 13 days.

She gave the example of a Malaysian friend, the head of gender equality in a trade union organisation, who told off male trade unionists who made sexist jokes against women, reported Straits Times.

It was all about respect, she said.


Rapists to face murder charge

The six males whose gang-rape and torture of a young woman caused her death in Singapore Saturday will now charged with murder, police sources said.

Delhi Police had charged the six accused, including a suspected juvenile, with rape. They later added the charge of attempt to murder.

This will now be converted into murder charge under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, a police source said.

All six are presently in Delhi’s Tihar Central Jail. Police have said they were conducting tests to determine the age of one of the accused who claims he was not an adult.

The rapists hail mainly from a slum area in south Delhi. They coaxed the 23-year-old woman and her male friend to board the bus in Munirka in south Delhi Dec 16 night saying they were headed to Dwarka in west Delhi.

Once the bus began moving, they pounced on the woman and gang-raped her for some 40 minutes before dumping her on the roadside. She was also tortured with an iron rod when she put up stiff resistance.

Her friend was also thrown out of the bus and thrown out.

The bus passed through several key roads, even past Police Control Room vans. But since the bus windows were tinted and had their curtains drawn, no one could spot what was going on inside.

The two were discovered shivering and bleeding by a patrol of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) who alerted the police.

While the friend was discharged soon after, the young woman remained in critical condition in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.

She was moved Thursday to Singapore where she passed away early Saturday at 2.15 a.m. IST.


Over 650 rapes in Delhi this year

More than 650 rape cases have been reported in the National Capital Region (NCR) this year.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), this was an increase over 522 rape cases reported in Delhi, the highest for any metro in the country, and the NCR in 2011.

The number of rapes in India shot up from 1953 to 2011 by a staggering 873 percent, the CPI-M’s “People’s Democracy” said this month.

This was three times faster than all cognizable crimes put together and three-and-a-half times faster than murder. And between 2007 and 2011, rape incidents increased by 9.7 percent.


Hang the rapists: Family of woman’s friend

The family of the male friend of the woman who died Saturday after being gang-raped demanded that the six rapists should be hanged “as soon as possible”.

“Our hearts are with the family of the girl, and we are very sad,” a family member of the woman’s friend told IANS, declining to be identified.

“Now that the girl has died, the six men should be tried for murder,” the family member said. “They should be hanged as soon as possible.”


Special aircraft to bring back body

A special aircraft will bring back the body of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim from Singapore Saturday evening, officials said.

The woman died early Saturday in a Singapore hospital after battling for life for 13 days.


Despite barricades, Delhi sees protests

Hundreds gathered in the heart of the Indian capital on Saturday following the death of the gang-rape victim in Singapore even as security forces sealed off India Gate and nearby areas.

While small groups engaged in animated discussions at Jantar Mantar, hundreds squatted on a road facing the monument to mourn the death of the 23-year-old who was brutally raped and tortured Dec 16.

In the crowds were people of all age groups although young men and women dominated. Some looked sullen and distraught while others were visibly angry over the fate the young woman suffered.

Others carried flowers in memory of the victim, a physiotherapist intern from Uttar Pradesh who was employed in a hospital here.

A few were upset over the government decision to shift her to Singapore at a time when her health was precarious.

Earlier, as the Singapore hospital announced her death, authorities here deployed hundreds of police and paramilitary forces to foil demonstrations that had earlier turned violent leaving a policeman dead.


Death exposes sexual violence in India: HRW

The death of the Delhi gang-rape victim in Singapore Saturday “is a sobering reminder of the vast tragedy of sexual violence in India”, Human Rights Watch said.

The death of the 23-year-old “follows the suicide of a 17-year-old after police failed to act on her complaint of rape”, said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

“This is not an isolated incident,” Ganguly said in a statement.

“The outrage now should lead to law reform that criminalises all forms of sexual assault, strengthen mechanisms for implementation and accountability, so that victims are not blamed, humiliated or suffering silently.

“It is much harder, but ultimately more effective, to revamp the response of police, doctors, forensic specialists, prosecutors, and judges to sexual violence.

“Victims deserve an effective, coordinated response to sexual assault,” she said.


Networking sites abuzz after gang-rape victim’s death

Following the death of the Delhi gang-rape victim, people took to Facebook and Twitter to vent their ire, demanding punishment for the culprits and more security for women.

Criticising the authorities for doing little to protect women, Soumyadipta Singh from Orissa wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter: “Kanun mein badlav layenge, aisa karenge, waisa karenge..etc...kaha the aap baba log?” (We will bring in changes in the law, we will do this, we will do that... where were you till now?)

Puja Mohindra from Los Angeles called for another freedom struggle, but this time for women.

“In 1947, Indians fought for their freedom. In 2013, Indians must fight for women’s freedom,” she tweeted.

Stressing on the need for stringent punishment for rapists, Srijith Balakrishnan from Kerala tweeted: “Now I think Cutting ‘Hands’ for Change is better than Joining Hands for Change.”

Fauzan Umar, a young professional from in Delhi posted on Facebook: “Behan hum sharminda hain, tumhare katil abhi zinda hain” (Sister, we are ashamed because your killers are still alive).

Sonia Raina mocked on Twitter the high security cover put around India Gate to foil mass protests, saying had the authorities been “so alert” earlier, the rape victim would have been alive today.

Bharat Punglia tweeted: “The ad of Incredible India should also add this fact—A Nation where Daughters are neither safe inside WOMB nor in streets.”

Vidushi Sathoo wrote on Twitter: “The girl hasn’t died. She’s moved to a better world where no rapes happen. RIP.”


JNU students protest silently in Munirka

Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University gathered in silence at the Munirka bus-stop in south Delhi from where the gang-rape victim, who passed away in a Singapore hospital Friday, was picked up on the night of Dec 16.

Students held up placards with anti-rape slogans, demanding action to prevent such crime.


Rape victim was a true hero: President

President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday condoled the death in Singapore of the young woman who was gang-raped here and called her a “true hero”. He asked the government to “ensure that such an incident never happens again.”

“I am deeply distressed by the unfortunate demise of the 23-year-old girl who passed away early this morning in Singapore,” Mukherjee said.

The president said: “She was a brave and courageous girl who fought till the very last minute for her dignity and her life. She is a true hero and symbolises the best in Indian youth and women.”

“I convey my condolences to her parents and family who have faced this adversity with fortitude and grace. I pray that they have the strength to bear this loss. The nation will mourn the passing of this brave daughter of India,” he added.

Stressing that her passing away should not be in vain, the president said the government would “do everything possible to ensure that such an incident never happens again”.

He requested “everyone to maintain peace and calm”.

He called upon the “authorities to take all necessary steps to bring the perpetrators of this ghastly crime to justice”.


Indian PM ‘deeply saddened’ by victim death

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was deeply saddened by the death of a gang-rape victim and that the protests which erupted in the aftermath of her assault were “understandable”.

“I am deeply saddened to learn that the unfortunate victim of the brutal assault that took place on December 16 in New Delhi has succumbed to the grievous injuries she suffered following that attack,” he wrote on his website.

“We have already seen the emotions and energies this incident has generated. These are perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change.

“I want to tell them (her family) and the nation that while she may have lost her battle for life, it is up to us all to ensure that her death will not have been in vain.”

India has been rocked by mass protests since the 23-year-old was brutally assaulted on a bus in New Delhi by a group of six men.

The government has tried to assuage the tide of anger by promising tougher punishments for the most extreme sex crimes as well as establishing an official commission of inquiry into the handling of the rape case.

Singh, who has previously called for calm, said that it would be “a true homage to her memory if we are able to channelize these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action”.

“The need of the hour is a dispassionate debate and inquiry into the critical changes that are required in societal attitudes.

“I hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to help us all reach the end that we all desire — making India a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in.”


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