M A I N   N E W S

Clamour grows for House session on women safety
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 30
As the debate heated up on stricter laws to deal with crime against women, the BJP today reiterated its demand to call a special session of Parliament. The suggestion has not found favour with the Left while the Congress has already rejected it.

A debate in Parliament would “certainly be able to tap upon the serious sense of distress and dismay which is sweeping across the country”, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

He said the BJP would cooperate with the government in fortifying laws relating to crime against women besides strengthening the judicial architecture for ensuring swifter justice to the victims and action against the perpetrators of such heinous crime.

The party had earlier led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee urging his intervention in directing the Manmohan Singh government to summon a special session of Parliament. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had turned down the suggestion.

Agreeing with the BJP that there was an urgent need to firm up laws dealing with crime against women, CPI MP D Raja said a session could be held, but he doubted its efficacy till the larger issue of gender equality was settled. “The government has not been able to legislate on reservation for women although the Rajya Sabha has already passed the Bill (in March 2010),” Raja said.

BJD leader Bharatruhari Mahtab said unless the government had a specific agenda, there was no point in calling a special session just to debate and discuss. “If the government can come up with a draft legislation to effectively tackle crimes like rape, a special session can be held,” Mahtab said.

Reports suggest that the Congress plans to submit a set of proposals to the Justice Verma Committee set up by the government for suggesting measures to deal with the issue in the wake of the brutal gang rape of 23-year-old Delhi girl who died battling injuries in a Singapore hospital on Saturday.

The BJP today also questioned the move by the authorities in Delhi to block access to public places like the India Gate, the place of violent clashes between police and protesters on December 23. Prasad justified that a “nation in shock” is entitled to protest and criticise the government for converting Delhi into a cantonment.

The BJP also criticised the manner in which the cremation of the rape victim was held. Maintaining that it understands and respects the right of privacy, the BJP leader charged that the secret manner in which the funeral was held raises “a lot of curious questions”.




Girl quietly cremated
PM, Sonia receive body at airport
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 30
The body of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim, who lost her battle for life in a Singapore hospital yesterday, was consigned to flames here early today.

Her body arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at 3.30am today and was received by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The braveheart, being referred to as the “daughter of the nation” succumbed to multiple injuries in the early hours yesterday at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth’s hospital. She was sent to Singapore to facilitate organ transplant earlier this week after she underwent treatment for 10 days at Safdarjung Hospital in the capital.

As distraught family members and relatives said their final prayers and performed her last rites in a small ceremony at a crematorium in Dwarka today, her mother collapsed due to severe depression and grief. Rushed to the Deen dayal Upadhayaya Hospital in west Delhi, the 45-year-old is now stable.

The body of the girl had arrived at the Palam technical area of the IGI Airport in a special Air India aircraft, accompanied by her parents and other family members.

Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi met the grief-stricken parents and brothers of the girl, who was a physiotherapy intern. Under a heavy security cover, her body was taken to her house in south-west Delhi. The family had moved in this house nearly 25 years ago.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh, Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta were among those who attended the cremation. Respecting the privacy of the girl, media entry was completely restricted.

Furthermore, the Delhi police also made arrangements to keep the details of the cremation closely-guarded till the last moment. The ceremony was aimed at the earliest time possible, but the funeral pyre was finally lit around 7.30 am post the sunrise, since Hindu religion doesn’t permit cremation before sunrise and after sunset. Meanwhile, protests continued throughout the capital today seeking prompt punishment for the accused in the case.

Protesters continued to pour in at Jantar Mantar. Candle-light vigils continued till late in the evening with hundreds staging a peaceful sit-in. However, the peace was marred for a couple of hours in the afternoon at Jantar Mantar following a small clash between the police and a group, allegedly the members of the ABVP.




Anti-rape law
Cong proposes chemical castration

Protesters try to break a police barricade in New Delhi on Sunday.
ANGRY HEARTS: Protesters try to break a police barricade in New Delhi on Sunday. — Reuters

New Delhi, December 30
Imprisonment up to 30 years for rape convicts has been proposed by the Congress in a draft Bill for a tougher law to check crimes against women which could also include chemical castration in rare cases.

The final draft of the Congress’ Bill, which is to be submitted to the Justice J S Verma-led Committee set up by the Centre in the wake of the horrific gang-rape of the 23-year-old girl, who died yesterday, has however not been readied yet, sources said today.

Some of the provisions of this tougher law which includes imprisonment up to 30 years for rape convicts and setting up of fast track-courts to decide the cases within 3 months and were discussed in the presence of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on December 23 when she met a group of people protesting against the gang-rape incident a week earlier. — PTI




Now, Delhi teen molested on bus

New Delhi, December 30
Amidst outrage in the Capital over the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old, a teenaged girl was molested on a city bus by an off-duty conductor, the Delhi Police said on Sunday. The attacker was arrested, and has been dismissed from service.

"The incident was reported Saturday around 11 p.m. at Barakhamba Road in central Delhi," said a senior police officer. The DTC cluster bus, heading towards Lajpat Nagar, was stopped at a police picket near Mandi House for checking when the 16-year-old girl was spotted crying. — TNS




Special to The Tribune
Protests spread as NRIs in UK plan rallies
Shyam Bhatia in London

Volunteers of the Pravasi Bharat protest against the Delhi gang-rape incident in London on Sunday.
Volunteers of the Pravasi Bharat protest against the Delhi gang-rape incident in London on Sunday.

UK-based NRIs are planning a continuing series of protest rallies in solidarity with the family of the Delhi rape victim who died in a Singapore hospital.

Sunday night’s planned demonstration at Hounslow Heath, close to London’s Heathrow airport, was being organised by a former Delhi police inspector, Darshan Singh Grewal, whose family originate from Ludhiana.

Grewal served for 10 years in the Delhi police force before leaving for the UK in 1990. He is currently an elected member of the Hounslow local council. Grewal, who also once represented India in national basketball, said he was saddened and sickened by what had happened in Delhi.

“We will continue the protests, we will continue putting pressure on the Indian government”, he told The Tribune.

Grewal was also a participant in the first NRI rally held last Saturday when demonstrators gathered next to Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Tavistock Square, central London, before marching to the nearby office of the Indian High Commission.

A letter submitted to the High Commission for onward transmission to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh read: “We as concerned citizens of India are deeply saddened by the news of the 23-year-old medical student who was brutally gang raped and assaulted in Delhi last week. Sir, we non-resident Indians staying in the United Kingdom have gathered near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Tavistock Square, London, and signed this petition to request of India the following: 1. Introduce strict laws against rapists. 2. Introduce the fast track courts to resolve sexual assault cases.”

A High Commission official who accepted the letter responded by saying: “I also mourn for the demise of the lady and feel the same as everyone in the protest. The letter will be delivered to the PM’s office.” Saturday’s march was organised by the Pravasi Bharat organisation which has campaigned in the past for NRIs to use a postal ballot in future Indian elections.

The head of Pravasi Bharat, 31-year-old IT consultant Nagender Chindam, told The Tribune: “Even though we are staying abroad, it doesn’t mean we are unconcerned. We too want the nation to flourish and be a happy, peaceful place. That’s why we have showed our concern.”

Chindam, originally from Hyderabad, added: “A lot of our volunteers are waiting for a reply to the letter. Otherwise we will plan more protests and next time outside the High Commission office. All we can assure you is that we will not give up.”





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