Thousands of people hit the streets in Delhi and Faridabad on Saturday, reviving the protests over violence against women, which had begun to show signs of slowing down.
The outrage was triggered by the abduction, murder and possible sexual assault of an 18-year-old student in Faridabad.
Less than 10 km from the Republic Day venue, citizens “tired of government apathy” took out a ‘freedom parade’ from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar, demanding the speedy implementation of recommendations made by the justice JS Verma committee.
The committee was formed to look into preventive and punitive measures to check crimes against women after the brutal December 16 gang rape in Delhi, which was the trigger for massive, violent clashes at India Gate. The last time protesters had taken to the streets was on January 16, exactly one month after the horrific incident.
On Saturday, students from Delhi University, JNU and Jamia, as well as many women professionals, turned up for the march to ensure public pressure on authorities does not die down. Unfazed by tight security, they displayed placards with names of women who have suffered and fought sexual violence. They also conferred ‘mardangi maryada medals’ on politicians and godmen who made “derogatory comments” against women after the gang rape.
“The Verma committee report has exposed the government. Nobody wants to implement its suggestions. Our protest will continue,” said Kavita Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association.
Faridabad, meanwhile, remained tense over the murder of a schoolgirl in a guesthouse in the NH5 area. The 18-year-old was allegedly killed by a jilted lover who had been stalking her for a while.
On Saturday, the girl's family alleged more than one person was involved in the crime and demanded that the role of the guesthouse owners be probed.
Hundreds of angry locals and activists belonging to Arvind Kejriwal’s political outfit, the Aam Aadmi Party, gathered outside the guesthouse to demand its closure and action against the owners.
The demonstrations forced ACP, New Industrial Town, Romesh Pal to rush to the spot, where he addressed the mob and promised prompt action. Despite his assurances, protests spread to other parts, including the local police station.
Activists demonstrate as they boycott Republic Day celebrations following the gangrape and murder of a student in New Delhi last December. HT Photo/Virendra Singh Gosain