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Wave of protests in Delhi against sexual violence

Dec 28, 2012

Demonstrations erupted in New Delhi after the December 16 attack, culminating last weekend in pitched battles between police and protesters around the city's India Gate war memorial.

Even as the 23-year-old Delhi gangrape victim was shifted to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, which has a state-of-the-art facility for multi-organ transplant, another gruesome gangrape, this time of a 42-year old woman has shocked India’s capital again. Over 300 people held a peaceful march from the Capital's Nizamuddin area to protest against the brutal attack on the girl and demand stringent punishment in rape cases.

Scores of people marched towards India Gate from south Delhi demanding better safety and security for women. Protesters, including many women, marched from Nizamuddin in south Delhi to India Gate but were stopped short of it, which led to a traffic congestion.

The protest march came amid prohibitory orders placed in and around India Gate after the violence during protests against the gangrape. The protesters were demanding sacking of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, fast-tracking pending sexual assault cases, special session of Parliament for enacting strong laws against sexual offences and better security for women.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister reiterated that the issue of safety and security of women is of utmost importance for the Government. Addressing the National Development Council meeting in New Delhi ON Thursday, he said Government has decided to review present laws and examine the level of punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault.

The number of rape cases in Delhi has increased in 2010 over the previous year. In 2009, there were 459 cases of rape reported across the city, while in 2010 the figure was 489. This roughly translates to one rape case every 18 hours. Also, there were 528 cases of molestation in 2009 and such cases went up to 585 in 2010 - or once every 14 hours.

With the spotlight on law and order, the debate remains on what has caused this decay of social fabric in India. The outrage over this incident is the reaction to years of such recurring incidents. One of the causes of such repeat can be the lack o convictions and the pending trials that do not make deterrents for offenders. In 2010, only 26 per cent of the perpetrators were convicted. If this is not bad enough, the court cases for these go on forever.

Parliamentary panel questions Delhi Police chief, points to deficiencies

A parliamentary panel has questioned the Delhi Police chief over the gangrape incident in the capital and pointed out deficiencies like vacancies at officer level and lack of vehicles to patrol the streets. Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home to face questions on 'growing atrocities against women in Delhi'.

Home Secretary R K Singh, who was also to appear before the panel, could not attend the meeting.

Kumar informed the panel about the sequence of events of the incident and said the police control room vans reacted "promptly" after receiving the phone call about the crime.

He is learnt to have told the committee that police investigations helped nab the accused within days of the December 16 gangrape.

During the course of the Police Commissioner's deposition, Congress member Sandeep Dikshit, who had recently demanded the resignation of Kumar in the wake of police action against protesters on Sunday, is understood to have said there was a disconnect between officers sitting in rooms and those on the ground.

He said that officials below Station House Officer rank act on their own giving little regard to orders from superiors.

Dikshit is the son of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who had been demanding that the Delhi Police be brought under the control of the city government. The Delhi Police is under the direct control of the India's Home Ministry.

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