The cremation of the young physiotherapy gang-rape victim was a low-key affair, with the government taking control and ensuring little public participation. Security in the area was beefed up as the woman’s mortal remains were consigned to the flames at Dwarka crematorium within hours of the arrival of the body from Singapore early this morning.
Though the body reached the crematorium around 5-45 a.m. and was put on the pyre by 6 a.m., the victim’s father lit it at around 7-30 a.m. as the family members protested against the police rushing them to get the cremation done before sunrise.
The area was fortified with a large number of policemen and members of the Rapid Action Force in anti-riot gear guarding the area and keeping a close vigil. Deployment of security personnel had started on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old victim had breathed her last at a Singapore hospital on Saturday, after a 13-day battle for life following the brutal assault on her by six persons in a moving bus on December 16.
In a recognition of public outrage over the rape and death of the victim, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi were present at the Palam Technical Area of the Indira Gandhi International Airport when the body arrived by a special Air India aircraft around 3-30 a.m.
The two leaders interacted with the victim's parents who had accompanied the body.
A large number of policemen escorted the body to the victim’s residence and later to the crematorium. Several barricades were put by the police near the victim’s residence to prevent ordinary citizens from joining the mourning. The policemen asked the victim’s neighbours to stay away from her house where rituals were being performed. The restrictions continued after the body was taken to the crematorium.
The anger that has gripped the country following the incident resonated in the locality with neighbours joining the chorus demanding “strictest possible punishment” to the accused.
“When she left home the last time, little did her father know that she would return here as a corpse. It is not about a girl from our locality who has fallen prey to this barbaric act, it’s about the safety of women in general,” an emotional neighbour said.
The neighbour said his younger brother had tutored her while she was in school. “Because she was focussed, her father decided to sell his land and mortgage their house to arrange for her educational expenses.’’
Those present at the crematorium included mostly family members and relatives of the deceased. The electronic media was not present as the Broadcast Editors Association had asked news channels to refrain from covering the funeral.
Union Minister R.P.N. Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Mahabal Mishra, MP, and Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta were among those present.
Keywords: Delhi gang-rape, Rajpath protests, violence against women, death penalty, Indian criminal justice system, rape punishment, political mobilisation, Delhi protests, peace protests, gang-rape victim cremation