Furious Delhi takes to streets, blames CM Sheila Dikshit govt, demands end to 'rape culture'; water-cannoned by policemen

Sheila Dikshit
Furious crowds gathered in front of Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit's house as well as at police headquarters calling out for an end to crime against women as well as accountability from those who are responsible for maintaining law and order.

The outpouring of anger is unusual in a country where attacks against women are often ignored and rarely prosecuted.

Scores of protesters associated with All India Students' Association (AISA), All India Democratic Womens' Association (AIDWA), other organisations as well as ordinary people shocked by the tragedy staged protests.

Their main demand was that chief minister comes out of her office and addresses the crowd and explain why girls are being left at the mercy of criminal elements by her govt - loud demands for her exit also rent the air.

A section of the crowd is asking for an end to the 'culture of rape' that has the country in its grip.

Dikshit did not oblige, but the crowd vowed not to budge till she talks to them. Dikshit in fact refused to come out, but said that she would welcome a 'peaceful' entry into her office by 2-3 representatives of the protesters.

For their troubles, the gathered crowds, consisting mostly of young girls, and a sprinkling of men, was water-cannoned by trigger-happy policemen in the cold and wintry afternoon.

The drenching did not deter the gathering as they kept screaming and pushing the barricades in an effort to enter her residence - cops put these up to safeguard the CM.

Protesters are saying they want her to 'face the cameras' and explain her position and outline a strategy to make women feel safer.

"If we are not safe in our national capital, then where can we? Government is just playing the game of passing the buck and shying away from its responsibility. Delhi CM is saying law and order is under Home Ministry and they are saying its the responsibility of the state. How long such things will go on?" one of the protesters asked.

"Police should arrest the rapists promptly. Police patrolling needs to be increased and women should be safe. Law needs to be changed so that next time nobody can dare to do such heinous crime. We will meet the Delhi Police Commissioner and put forward our demand that such acts shouldn't happen," Delhi State Joint Secretary of AIDWA, Kavita Sharma said.

Delhi BJP, during the demonstration at Jantar Mantar, demanded resignations of Dikshit and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

Demanding a strong punishment for the culprits, Mayor of East Delhi Municipal Corporation Annapurna Mishra said they should be hanged within a month.

She was also critical of the government's approach, and demanded resignation of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

Addressing a gathering at the Jantar Mantar, she said: "This is not the first time that such an incident has happened in Delhi. They have said that the case will be held in a fast track court and there will be increased surveillance. Why were these steps not taken before?"

"These culprits should get a strong punishment which can be a lesson for others. They should be hanged within a month," Mishra demanded.

State BJP Chief Vijender Gupta said the party will fight the case of the 23-year-old victim in the court.

He also mentioned that the victim would be given a job in the MCD.

Questioning why the women were not safe in the national capital, national secretary of party's youth wing, Dhvani Sharma said, "If girls in the states like Gujarat can roam around without fear, why should they worry about their security in Delhi?" She also criticised Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar's statement that the offender's were on a "joyride".

"This is ridiculous, how can he say that they were on a joyride and were looking for a victim," she said.

Elsewhere across India, the scenes were not as graphic, but the intent, of outpouring of grief for the brutalised girl, and demand for a better future were equally in view.

Lawmakers, rights groups and citizens across India expressed outrage over the gangrape in a bus and are urging government to crack down on crimes against women.

Opposition lawmakers protested outside Parliament on Wednesday and called for the death penalty for the rapists.

Analysts and protesters said the upsurge of anger was chiefly due to the increasing incidents of crime against women and the seeming inability of the government and police to ensure the safety of women.

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