New Delhi, Dec 25, 2012: Anti-rape protesters in Delhi promise to continue their agitation, fighting for women’s safety. There’s no Christmas holiday for the protesters who say they are in it in the long run.
Earlier on Monday, activists of several women’s organisations petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee demanding action against Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar and other officials in the wake of the gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in Delhi.
They also demanded setting up of fast-track courts to deal with pending cases of sexual assault. A delegation, led by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, met Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan and handed over a memorandum to him in this regard.
"Action should be taken against top police officials, including the Police Commissioner, who have willfully failed to implement the guidelines and directions set out for security in the capital for women," the members of the delegation said. "There must be standard operating procedures for any crime against women which include immediate registration of an FIR and a speedy time-bound investigation and filing of case before the court. "Any police official violating the standard operating procedures should be punished. Senior police officials must be mandated to monitor security measures as well as implementation of standard operating procedures," they said.
There was a belated attempt by the government on Monday to do some damage control. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday addressed the nation for the first time since the crisis, appealing for calm and peace. While he described the anger over the incident as just, the Prime Minister said that the violence by protesters was wrong.
While the Prime Minister appealed to the protesters for peace, the rape survivor continued her battle for life at the Safdarjung hospital as she continued to be in a critical condition on a ventilator. The doctors said that on Sunday night the rape survivor had shown tendencies of internal bleeding due to Sepsis infection, which has effected the power of her blood to coagulation. They also said that her Platelate count had gone down from 19000 to 17000.
The government also promised early trial in the rape case with sources indicating it could start as soon as January 3. It also reiterated its promise of fast-track courts for rape trials in Delhi and daily hearings.
Amidst these assurances, the government even sealed off most of Central Delhi and shut as many as nine important metro stations to deter protesters. However, the steps failed to deter the protesters, who moved on to Jantar Mantar and the protests brought the capital on its knees.
However, thousands of commuters in Delhi faced difficulties on Monday, as several roads were shut down to prevent protesters from reaching India Gate. Closing the main roads and traffic diversions led to massive traffic jams in the NCR region. Policemen in large numbers could be seen on all major roads.
Magistrate complains against cops, Sheila Dikshit demands inquiry
The Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, has written to the Home Minister asking for an independent inquiry into a magistrate’s allegation that senior Delhi police officers tried to interfere with the crucial process of recording the statement of the 23-year-old medical student who was gang-raped on a moving bus in Delhi last week.
Ms Dikshit’s note to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is based on a complaint filed by the sub divisional magistrate or SDM of Vasant Vihar, Usha Chaturvedi, who recorded the student’s statement in hospital on Friday night. The judge claims that three police officers, who she has named, tried to dissuade the young woman’s mother from letting her record her statement on camera.
Police sources have countered the magistrate, saying it was not them, but the student’s mother, who did not want the 23-year-old’s testimony to be video-taped.
The statement will be used in the trial of the six men arrested for the gang-rape. The young student is in critical condition in hospital.
Mrs Dikshit, in her letter to Mr Shinde, says the magistrate’s complaint is "alarming and serious." The judge has alleged that the police officers misbehaved with her and tried to intimidate her. However, she has not questioned the contents of the statement, or suggested that it was influenced by the police officers’ alleged actions.
Police sources say that the three officers named by the magistrate were not in the hospital room when the student shared her account of the horrific assault, and that the magistrate was free to ask the student any questions she wanted.
Senior police sources also say that if required, they will help facilitate a fresh recording of the statement.
The magistrate’s complaint was forwarded to the Chief Minister by BM Mishra, who is Deputy Commissioner, East. Mr Mishra has reportedly sought stern action against the police officers.
The heinous attack has incensed India with thousands of protestors, many of them students, demanding stricter anti-rape laws and better safety for women in Delhi. Mrs Dikshit has been sharply critical of the police’s handling of the case.