Faced with unprecedented outrage against the horrendous gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman, who is battling for her life for the last six days, and violence directed at women, political parties trained their guns on the government with demands for immediate steps to protect women including summoning of a special session of Parliament to consider a law for death penalty to the rapists.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and demanded that a special session of Parliament be convened to consider death sentence for heinous crimes against women. Ms. Swaraj tweeted that Dr. Singh agreed to consider the suggestion.
According to the Congress, UPA chairperson and party president Sonia Gandhi also spoke to the Prime Minister asking for ‘swift and immediate action’ in the case. Earlier in the week Ms. Gandhi wrote separately to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
The Opposition is livid over the manner in which the police handled the protesters spread from India Gate to Vijay Chowk as well as remarks made by the Union Home Secretary on Saturday commending the Delhi Police for its ‘brilliant job’ in nabbing the rapists. In their assessment the sweeping comments made by the Home Secretary further infuriated the outraged and anguished public.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani called up Mr. Shinde and said the Delhi Police must show restraint on the protesters, who were stopped while trying to march towards Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“I heard reports that police took severe action against them. I called up the Home Minister and told him that we should appreciate the concern of the protesters and that their anger is justified,” Mr. Advani told the Press Trust of India.
Mr. Advani suggested to Mr. Shinde that instead of using force on the protesters, he should ask the senior police and administration officials to reason with them.
“I asked Mr. Shinde to tell the Police Commissioner and other senior officials to talk to the protesters and ask them to disperse, instead of using force,” Mr. Advani said. He said the Home Minister agreed with him and promised to take up the issue with the Delhi Police.
Mr. Advani said the Opposition did not want to blow up the issue and his intention was to calm the situation. “I am interested in seeing that the people feel that the right action, which should be taken in such a situation, is being taken by the authorities,” he said.
Separately, the CPI (M) Polit Bureau condemned the police action on thousands of young demonstrators outside the government offices on Rajpath and demanded that the Prime Minister intervene without delay, implement the earlier measures assured and take appropriate action against those top police officials responsible.
It said that the use of lathis, teargas and water cannon against the protesters, highlighted the utter insensitivity of the Delhi police and the Central and State governments on the issue.
“The arrogant statements by the Home Secretary and the Delhi Police Commissioner refusing to accept responsibility for the utter failure to implement earlier assurances related to the measures required to ensure security for women in Delhi is deplorable.
“Who is responsible for the monitoring of the security situation? Who is accountable for non-implementation of measures already decided? The multiplicity of authority particularly as far as law and order and security is concerned in Delhi has meant zero accountability on the part of various authorities for the deteriorating security of women in the capital with the State and Central agencies indulging in a blame game.”
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad asked both Dr. Singh and Ms. Gandhi to break their silence. “Why is the Prime Minister silent? The whole nation is angry and he has not said anything. Prime Minister should speak up.”
“We would like to appeal to you. Please don't maintain silence today. Delhi wants assurance. Young boys and girls want assurance. People of the country want assurance that they will be given security and safety,” he said.