Demonstrators target North Block, South Block & Supreme Court; some attempt to enter Rashtrapati Bhavan
The simmering public anger against the gang-rape of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in the city spilled over to institutions of the highest echelons of the government on Friday as protesters targeted North Block, South Block, Rail Bhavan and Supreme Court, with some even attempting to enter Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Several activists of the Aam Aadmi Party, including Arvind Kejriwal, staged a protest near 10 Janpath, the residence of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, demanding speedy justice to the victim. The activists, who marched to Ms. Gandhi’s residence after staging a demonstration at Jantar Mantar, sat there holding candles and shouting slogans against the government.
A large number of protesters under the banner of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union marched from Rajpath and crossed the barricades at the entrance to Raisina Hill. The protesters, who raised slogans “We want justice” and seeking stringent punishment for the culprits, were stopped by the police when they tried to force their way into Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“They say we need permission to enter there. Why do we need permission? Nobody takes any permission while attacking and harassing women. We are here to express our anger, hurt and outrage at the situation where women are forced to fend for themselves,” said a protester flashing a placard that read: “Don’t go out late at night. Explain ‘late’ please”, and “Don’t tell your daughter not to go out, tell your son to behave properly.”
The protests, which saw spontaneous participation by both men and women from different age groups and walks of life, demanded not just a comprehensive law to deal with rape but a radical change in the attitude of those in law and order agencies who put the onus of the shame on the victims instead.
While protesting at Jantar Mantar, Mr. Kejriwal demanded that a law, making completion of trial of all rape cases within two months mandatory, be passed immediately. Referring to the rape of a German tourist in Jodhpur in 2006, he said the judge completed the trial within 16 days. “If the Jodhpur judge can do this in 16 days, why can’t that be adopted by the entire judiciary as the practice for rape cases?” he asked.
Some people also protested outside the Safdarjung Hospital.