Gang-rape sparks protests across Delhi

New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) The capital witnessed several protests Wednesday, including near the Delhi chief minister's residence and the police headquarters, as a 23-year-old victim of gang-rape fought for her life in a Delhi hospital.

Police sprayed water to break up a protest by students outside Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's house. As the demonstration became noisier, police used water jets on young men and women who refused to budge from the spot.

The demonstrators said they were incensed over the horrific Sunday rape in a moving bus.

Another demonstration outside Delhi Police Headquarters ended peacefully after a group of women met Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar.

Speaking later, Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan told the media: "We have been assured that this case will be dealt with in a very, very severe manner."

About 150 women and college students who gathered outside police headquarters for nearly three hours demanded more police presence on roads and fast-track courts to prosecute rapists.

These protesters belonged to more than 20 women's groups and others. Their demonstration blocked traffic on an otherwise busy road.

"We want Delhi Police to follow a set of procedures and guidelines as conviction rates are very low when it comes to rape," said Sudha Sundararaman of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA).

"There is also an urgent need to set up fast-track courts to deal with rape cases," she said. "Such cases should be investigated and a judgment pronounced within six months."

Some women demanded that police should step up patrolling in the city, especially at night.

"Increased patrolling and deployment of police, including women, in public places so that such incidents can be prevented. We need standardised investigation procedures to be circulated to all police stations, with stern action against police personnel who do not implement them," said Sehba Farooqui, general secretary, Delhi AIDWA.

Assuring a strong action against the perpetrators, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said: "Women representatives from various organisations have demanded a monitoring committee to check crime against women. I think such a committee is needed. The committee will be headed by a nodal officer and women representatives from NGOs."

In parliament, MPs condemned the barbaric act and demanded speedy justice in the case.

Women MPs of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) staged a sit-in protest in parliament against the central and Delhi governments over repeated instances of rape.

Students and women organisations also organised protests at Jantar Mantar and India Gate in central Delhi.

"Fie on Delhi Police, Delhi Police be ashamed of yourselves," the protesters shouted.

There were also protests outside Vasant Vihar police station, where the case has been registered and where students from JNU led the protests as well as Saket court where the accused were produced Wednesday.

The young woman who was raped by half-a-dozen men in a bus and then dumped on a road was battling for life at Safdarjung Hospital.

Doctors had earlier said the woman, who is from Uttar Pradesh, was in critical condition.

The women's group submitted a memorandum to Delhi Police saying: "We call on Delhi Police to ensure the immediate arrest of all the perpetrators, carry out efficient investigation and take measures for a speedy trial leading to stringent punishment for the culprits."

"This incident is a shameful pointer to the sad state of law and order and the general apathy, insensitivity that the system has towards women," it added.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 522 rape cases were reported in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) in 2011, the highest in any metro in the country. In 2012, over 650 rape cases have been reported in the capital so far.

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