Protesters asking for a safer city for women warned the government on Saturday against using its committees as merely a tactic to manage people’s anger.
Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, told Hindustan Times, “The Justice Verma Committee report reflects the central concern of our movement — safeguarding the sexual autonomy of women. Why is the government distancing itself from the report? The truth is the report has made both the government and the Opposition uncomfortable.”
“We will not let the powers-that-be consign the report to the cold storage and use the Justice Verma panel and its report as a mere protest-management tactic,” she said.
Krishnan was part of several groups of students and teachers from Delhi University, JNU, Jamia Milia Islamia and IGNOU, besides women professionals who took out a march from the Mandi House Metro station. The kilometre-long march that started around 2.30pm traversed through various streets of central Delhi and culminated in a meeting at Jantar Mantar.
Protesters sought speedy implementation of the Justice Verma committee report which has submitted its recommendations to prevent heinous crimes against women. Anand Pradhan, of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, said, “We will continue putting pressure on the government through protests.”
Madhu Mehra, a lawyer, said, “The government constituted the Justice Verma committee but on December 24 it also introduced a Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, in Parliament. The subject matter is same. Why is the government adopting a two-track process? What if the standing committee says something which is not in sync with the Verma committee recommendations? The bill should have gone to the Justice Verma committee in the first place.”
During the “freedom parade”, the protesters honoured “unknown citizens”. They carried placards and banners with the names of 40 victims of rape and sexual violence. The protestors also carried placards with names of places where horrific rapes have taken place. The protesters had come on a platform through a Facebook group called Freedom Without Fear — Bekhauf Azadi - to stage the protest in the Capital on Republic Day in order to “Reclaim The Republic” — as the placards read.