Day after cremation, protests rage on

A day after the gang-rape victim was quietly cremated here, loud protests continued against rising crimes against women and the Opposition reiterated its demand for a special session of parliament to discuss strengthening of anti-rape laws.

Marching for justice: University students shout slogans during a protest march in New Delhi yesterday. The family of the gang rape victim said they would not rest until her killers are hanged as they spoke of their own pain and trauma over a crime that has united the country in grief. Pic/AFP

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 on December 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.

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 on 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.

The Delhi government has announced Rs 15 lakh as 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.

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