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Delhi rape protests sweep India

Posted on Dec 20, 09:50AM | IBNS

Protests swept India on Wednesday as people from all walks of life took to streets expressing their angst following the gang rape and brutalization of a medical student on a bus in Delhi, even as administrators sought to pacify the outrage with talk of action and the victim battled for her life.

Hundreds gathered at India Gate in Delhi on Wednesday evening with banners and placards, holding candlelight vigils and performing street plays.

A group of around 200 students tried to march to Raisina Hill, where several ministries, the Prime Minister's office and Rashtrapati Bhawan are located and were stopped by police.

Sensing the outpouring dissent fanned by relentless live television coverage, representatives of the students were then invited to meet Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde at his home following which they gave him a 10-point demand.

Throughout the day, the capital and other cities witnessed rallies, as people demanded a swift trial of the six men accused in the case, and new laws with heftier punishment for those convicted of rape.

"This has just gone for too long. We are against a seasonal spike in interest to such biting issues, but it has to stop somewhere. We want the authorities to wake from their stupor," a college student told IBNS in Delhi.

Meanwhile, three of the arrested accused - Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma - confessed to their crime in a Delhi court on Wednesday.

Three of the six men accused in the crime were produced before the court on Wednesday.

The court remanded Vinay and Pawan to four-day police custody while Mukesh was sent to 14-day judicial custody.

Confessing to his crime, Pawan told the court: "I've done a horrible crime..I accept I am guilty. I should be hanged."

Vinay said: "We hit the boy (victim's male friend) but not the girl."

Pawan and Vinay refused to undergo identification test but Mukesh agreed to do so, reports said.

The court said he will undergo the test on Thursday at Tihar jail here.

The police, meanwhile, have detained the fifth accused from Bihar's Aurangabad district.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday demanded a status report on the case within 48 hours from the Delhi Police.

Taking a suo motu cognisance of the rape and brutalization of the girl on Sunday night in a bus, the court asked the Police Commissioner to a file status report by two days.

The high court also cleared the formation of fast track courts to try the cases of rape following request by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to allow quick setting up of fast track courts.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Wednesday told Parliament that there would be an immediate crackdown on all buses with tinted glasses and the vehicles would have to keep their lights on during night.

After meeting Delhi top cops, Shinde made a statement in Parliament where he said there shall be an immediate crackdown on all buses and commercial vehicles with tinted glasses.

He said all commercial vehicles and buses were directed to keep lights on during night and all off-duty buses must be parked with the owners.

He said all those vehicles violating contract carriage conditions shall be impounded.

He said there would be more Police Control Room (PCR) fleet with deployment of more number of vehicles and they would be GPS (Global Positioning System) enabled.

To a question by a BJP member on death penalty for rapists, Shinde said there is already a bill pending for criminal amendment to rape laws and enhancement of punishment for rape and that can be up to life imprisonment.

He also admitted that PCR vans are often sidelined in the corner of road and since this bus where the incident took place had tinted glasses and with curtains, the PCR could not take note of it.

He said one lady officer has been appointed to take stock of the victim every hour.

Shinde met the top cops of Delhi Police in the wake of the gangrape in the national capital on Sunday night.

Earlier on Tuesday night, Congress president and chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government Sonia Gandhi visited in hospital the critically injured victim of the gangrape and demanded strong action against the guilty by writing letters to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Clamour for death sentence for rapists and security of women gained momentum as a nationwide outrage followed over the gangrape and atrocities on the 23-year-old medical student in a moving Delhi bus, even as the national capital's top cop said four arrests, including of the prime accused, were made in a swift action.

The badly injured victim, now on ventilator in a Delhi hospital, has gained consciousness and communicated her ordeal by writing. But she is still very critical.

Police said bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Vinay Sharma (who a gym instructor), Pawan Gupta, who is a fruit seller, were arrested for the rape and unspeakable brutality on the girl that left her fighting for life.

A Delhi court on Tuesday remanded Ram Singh, the prime accused in Sunday night's gangrape incident in the national capital, to five-day police custody. Two others were produced in a Saket court on Wednesday.

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said they will take Singh to Rajasthan, Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh in order to nab two other accused.

Shinde told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the culprits will be punished at the earliest and he would monitor the case himself. He also assured a fast track court trial.

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said police would ask for death penalty of the rapists before the government.

Meanwhile, politicians were out to score brownie points over action over the gangrape victim of Delhi and follow ups.

While Sonia Gandhi was the first to visit the victim in hospital Tuesday night and demanded action from the Delhi Chief Minister and Union Home Minister, ironically both hailing from her own party Congress's governments, Opposition leader in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj of BJP said Sonia should act and not demand action.

Politicians hit the streets too with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s Smriti Irani saying they would provide free legal services to all rape victims if they come forward to fight their battles.

Sushma Swaraj was caustic in her attack on Sonia.

"I was baffled when I heard on TV that Sonia wants immediate action. She cannot demand action, she has to take action since she is in power. She should promise action and we should demand it. Delhi police should put this case in fast track court and try them and punish them," said Sushma Swaraj.

Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan also went to meet the Delhi police commissioner.

"Commissioner has assured that he would take this case very seriously. I think the Delhi and India governments should assist the police commissioner. You all cooperate with him and police," she said after meeting the police commissioner Neeraj Kumar.

Jaya Bachchan urged everyone to donate money for the girl and said she would also do so from the MPLAD fund.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said the matter should not be politicized and she would meet everyone with any suggestion, after protesters were met with water cannons and batons before her residence when they gathered there to agitate and submit memorandum.

Meanwhile, the victim, a 23-year-old paramedical student on Wednesday underwent fifth surgery and "continues to be critical but stable", doctors attending on her said.

Doctors at the Safdarjung hospital performed an elective abdominal surgery and surgeons had to remove her gangrenous small intestine.

The girl remains on ventilatory support.