Published — Friday 28 December 2012
Last update 28 December 2012 1:05 am
NEW DELHI: Police thwarted an attempt by activists yesterday to rekindle mass protests in New Delhi over sex abuse of a woman. The victim was airlifted to Singapore for medical treatment.
Demonstrations erupted in New Delhi after the Dec. 16 attack, culminating last weekend in pitched battles between police and protesters around the city’s India Gate war memorial.
However, activists who gathered yesterday for a fresh march were stopped by police.
“We will win back our freedom!” the protesters, mostly university students, shouted as they pushed against barricades on a road leading to the city’s landmark monument. Unable to make further headway, the crowd dispersed as night fell.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex attacks among India’s major cities, with an abuse reported on average every 18 hours, according to the National Crimes Records Bureau.
Most rapes and other sex crimes go unreported and offenders are rarely punished, but the brutality of the assault on the medical student in New Delhi triggered public outrage, demands for both better policing and harsher punishment for rapists.
Dr. Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of the Singapore hospital, said yesterday that the woman was in “an extremely critical condition”.
“Prior to her arrival, she has already undergone three abdominal surgeries, and experienced a cardiac arrest in India,” Loh said. “A multi-disciplinary team of specialists is taking care of her and doing everything possible to stabilize her condition.”
The outcry and spasm of violent protests over the case caught Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government off guard and set off a blame game between politicians and the police.
Singh digressed in a speech on economic planning yesterday to stress that the safety and security of women was a priority issue for his government, and said there would be a review of the laws and levels of punishment for aggravated sexual assault.
But within an hour of that meeting, his Congress party was plunged into embarrassment over comments made by one of its lawmakers, Abhijit Mukherjee, son of the country’s president.
Mukherjee described the demonstrations as a “pink revolution” by women wearing heavy make-up who think it is fashionable to protest.
Quizzed repeatedly on news channels, Mukherjee said he regretted causing offense and apologized. However, his comments had already sparked a wave of fury on social media sites and even his own sister said she was “embarrassed” by her brother.