Special Correspondent

No untoward incident reported

School students take out rally to District Collector’s Office

AHMEDABAD: The “Surat Bandh” call given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in protest against the alleged gang rape of a minor school girl, received mixed reaction from the people on Monday. No untoward incident was reported from the art silk and diamond city.

Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, camping in the city for the last two days to keep a watch on the situation, said the bandh was a “flop,” but the VHP claimed that the call received “overwhelming support.”

Police arrested many of the VHP office-bearers and leaders on Sunday night after they refused to heed the government’s appeal to withdraw the bandh call. Many VHP leaders in the neighbouring areas in south Gujarat were also held as a precautionary measure. The police did not even allow the VHP to hold a media conference in the city in the evening.

The bandh call was yet another evidence of the growing differences between Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the VHP. While all other organisations, including the students and parents associations, yielded to the government’s appeal, the VHP refused.

Most shops and business establishments in the outskirts remained closed but life was near normal in most other parts. Most schools and colleges also functioned as usual and the public transport system was normal.

Students of the school in which the rape victim was studying, took out a rally to the District Collector’s Office and submitted a memorandum demanding that the accused be “handed over” to them for “summary trial.” They asked the police not to take the accused to the courts with their faces covered so that they were “exposed” to the entire world.

A member of the National Women’s Commission, Manju Hembrum, rushed to Surat to take stock of the situation. She called on the family members of the rape victim, Police Commissioner Shivanand Jha and also held discussions with the Home Minister. Later she told journalists that she was satisfied with the progress of the investigation but expressed concern over the growing cases of rape and attacks on women.

She said she would also recommend suitable changes in the acts governing women’s safety and security in her report to the Central government.

Ms. Hembrum said she had suggested to Mr. Shah that the Surat rape case be handled on the lines of the one in Rajasthan where the police and the courts took just 13 days to hand down punishment to the guilty.

Mr. Shah told journalists that the State government was firm on ensuring “maximum punishment in the quickest possible time” to the guilty. It had already approached the judicial authorities to transfer the case to a fast track court for day-to-day trial.

Meanwhile, the Surat police claimed to have recovered several MMS clips of pornographic videos from the mobile shop of one of the accused.