Street protests erupted in New Delhi yesterday against the barbaric rape of a five-year-old girl on Monday. The police nabbed the accused from his in-law’s house in Muzaffarpur, Bihar in an early morning raid. Public anger spilled onto the streets as protesters held demonstrations in the ‘rape capital’ of India, demanding death for Manoj Kumar, 22, who kidnapped, starved and tortured the girl for two days.
Students, women activists and members of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student’s wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, laid siege outside the Police Headquarters at ITO shouting slogans and waving banners.
Numbers swelled by afternoon and the crowd demanded the resignation of Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar to take moral responsibility for police callousness. Many protesters tried to break the barricades and enter the Police Headquarters. They were gently, but firmly, pushed back by the police, who may be taking a lesson from Friday’s incident when a police officer was suspended for slapping a protesting schoolgirl.
The restive crowd soon moved to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where the girl is undergoing treatment. Soon another a batch of protesters moved to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s house in Krishna Menon Marg in central Delhi and raised slogans against the deteriorating law and order situation in the capital, which has seen 393 rape cases in just three months as compared to 152 in the same period last year. Dozens also protested outside Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s 10 Janpath residence.
Gandhi said, “Action and not words are required to check incidents like this heinous rape.” Doctors at AIIMS said the girl’s condition had stabilised. “She has suffered injuries to her private parts and will need to undergo corrective and reconstruction surgery,” AIIMS medical superintendent DK Sharma said. “She has been put on intravenous fluids and antibiotics. She is talking,” he said.
The girl was shifted to AIIMS on Friday from an east Delhi hospital where doctors had said they had never seen such a brutal attack after they removed a bottle and pieces of candle from her private parts. The girl, who was repeatedly raped, was rescued when family members heard her screams on Wednesday. The accused had fled, thinking that she had died. “She was locked in the room for over 40 hours,” said Delhi’s Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Prabhakar.