Gang-rape victim cremated away from public glare

NEW DELHI, Dec 30:
The mortal remains of the gang-rape victim, who lost her brave battle for life in a Singapore hospital yesterday, were consigned to flames here early today away from public glare, hours after her body was received by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the small hours.
The funeral pyre was lit by her sobbing father at a crematorium in the subcity Dwarka after traumatised relatives and friends said their final prayers at a ritual at the house where the girl lived in southwest Delhi.
Singh and Gandhi waited at the Palam technical area of the IGI Airport where a special aircraft of Air India carrying the mortal remains of the girl as also her parents and family members taxied down the tarmac in heavy fog in a sombre atmosphere reflecting the national mood against the beastial attack on her two Sundays ago that ultimately claimed her life.
After the plane landed at IGI airport at around 3.30am, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi met the disconsolate parents and brothers of the paramedical student and commisserated in their grief.
Amidst heavy deployment of Delhi Police, BSF and Rapid Action Force personnel in riot gear, the body was then taken to the house, where the girl lived, and rituals were performed before being taken to the crematorium at Dwarka Sector 24.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh, West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra, Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta were also present at the cremation from which the media was kept out.
It was only late last night that police had approached the officials of a crematorium for an early morning cremation of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim.
The cremation plans were kept closely-guarded till the last moment as police apprehended a large gathering may cause law and order problems.
Authorities also wanted the last rites to be performed at 6.30 am but their plan did not materialize as Hindu traditions did not allow cremation before sunrise.
At 7.30 am, the father of the victim lit the funeral pyre in the presence of her brothers, relatives and others.
A senior police official said the security arrangements at the funeral were made to ensure that the exercise takes place peacefully.
There had been violent protests last weekend following the gang-rape and brutal assault on the girl.
Police had approached the Government yesterday and proposed that the body be taken directly to Ballia in UP, the girl’s native place, via Lucknow or Varanasi but the Government decided against it, sources said.
Surges of protests erupted across India since the attack on the night of December 16 when the woman was not only repeatedly raped but also sexually assaulted with an iron bar, leaving her with terrible intestinal injuries.
Thousands took part in fresh demonstrations today and they passed off peacefully as mourners vowed the student’s killing would serve as a tipping point for how the nation deals with violence against women.
After being treated at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, she was flown to Singapore on Wednesday night but doctors were unable to prevent a multiple organ failure and she was pronounced dead in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Braving freezing cold, thousands of people took part in late-night candlelit vigils and silent protest marches across the country on Saturday, demanding stricter punishment to rapists and tougher measures to prevent crime against women.
The savage nature of the attack on the girl brought the simmering anger among the people to a tipping point and prompted the Government to promise better security for women and harsher sentences for crimes against them.
The girl, a physiotherapy student, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted allegedly by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16 night. She died yesterday morning.
Police have slapped murder charges, which has death penalty in rarest of rare cases, against the six accused and will file the chargesheet against them on January 3.
Investigators said they will seek the harshest punishment for the culprits.
Unable to bear the loss of her daughter, the 46-year-old mother of the Delhi gang-rape victim collapsed today and was rushed to a hospital where she was treated for “grief reaction”.
Doctors at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital in west Delhi said the woman underwent thorough check-ups and was discharged in the evening as “she was doing fine”.
A senior doctor said the woman was brought to the hospital at around 8.10 am after her daughter’s cremation and was rushed to the Emergency department where she was treated for “grief reaction”.
Grief reaction comprises somatic and psychological symptoms associated with extreme sorrow or loss, specifically of a loved one.
Doctors said the woman appeared very weak and it seemed she had not had proper food while her daughter was battling for life for nearly two weeks. She became unconscious for some time in the morning after the cremation of her daughter, whose body was brought in the wee hours from Singapore.
“Once she was brought to the hospital, the woman was thoroughly checked. We even performed CT scan and other diagnosis on her. She is completely fine now and was discharged in the evening,” Dr S P Barua, Medical Superintendent of the Hospital said.
He said the woman was frail and was unable to bear the loss of her daughter.
“It also looks like she had not had proper food for the past 10-12 days and she is very weak. We call it the grief effect,” the doctor said.
Doctors said the victim’s mother must have been anxious and disturbed for the past couple of weeks which had taken a toll on her and this was the reason she collapsed.
The victim’s parents had undergone psychiatric counselling along with the girl after the brutal attack that has sparked national outpouring of grief and anger.
Meanwhile, the peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar demanding speedy punishment for the rapists of the 23-year-old girl was marred by violence today when a group allegedly belonging to BJP’s student wing ABVP clashed with police on being denied permission to take out a march.
Five persons, including some members of the ABVP, were detained following the incident but were released later and the situation quickly brought under control.
The incident occurred even as a group of protesters sat on a one-day hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in the heart of Capital while others shouted slogans holding placards in their hands.
A group of protesters also painted slogans and graphics on sheets of paper spread on the road.
The hitherto peaceful protest turned violent at around 1 pm when a group among the protesters carrying flags and banners of ABVP tried to take out a march from Jantar Mantar to Connaught Place but police prevented them from moving ahead, following which the clash erupted.
While one group went ahead with the peaceful protest, another group tried to break the iron barricades and police called in more reinforcement.
Protesters managed to break some of the barricades but police immediately contained them.
At Jantar Mantar, young and old, men and women gathered at the epicentre of protest from morning in an outpouring of grief and anger at the rape and death of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student.
A group of protesters sat on a one-day hunger strike at Jantar Mantar while others shouted slogans holding placards in their hands.
India Gate and Raisina Hill, where violent protests had taken place last week, remained out of bounds for public today as hundreds of policemen in riot gear guarded the area andkept a hawk’s vigil.
“The entire central vista including Rajpath, Vijay Chowk and all roads leading to India Gate will be closed for general traffic. Kamal Attaturk Marg has also been closed. All travellers are advised to avoid these roads,” police said.
Five out of the 10 metro stations in Central Delhi, that were closed down for an indefinite period in the wake of the death of the gang-rape victim, were opened this afternoon.
The stations which opened are Pragati Maidan, Mandi House, Barakhamba Road, Rajiv Chowk and Patel Chowk.
Meanwhile, 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.
There is also a suggestion to re-define the Juveniles Act and lower their age.
One of the accused in the ghastly rape case, who inflicted maximum brutality on the victim, is a juvenile and aged a few months less than 18 years. A view has been expressed by a section that only those below 15 years should be described as juvenile.
Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, which has framed and helped frame many a landmark legislations like RTI, is likely to be involved in the whole exercise.
Sources said the Women and Child Development Ministry, headed by Krishna Tirath, held a marathon meeting with stakeholders on this issue on Friday during which several suggestions have been made.
The ministry will prepare a summary of the suggestions received and will submit it to the Justice Verma-headed three-member committee set up to review existing laws and make recommendations for changes in them to effectively check crimes against women.
“There is no Government draft till now. The summary that we submit to the J S Verma Committee will be the first written document on which the new law will be based,” sources said.
At the meeting with the protestors at her 10 Janpath residence, Gandhi had favoured fast track courts for trying rape cases with a 90-day cap while party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary made a strong pitch for chemical castration to rape convicts. Chowdhary such a punishment is already in vogue in various countries and that it had a deterrent effect, sources said. (PTI)

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