They were back at Jantar Mantar on Saturday — silent, sombre, resolute and completely peaceful.
They had no affiliations. They were students, fathers, mothers, professionals who joined hands to pray and pay their heartfelt tributes to the 23-year-old gangrape victim, who died
at a Singapore hospital early Saturday morning.
While some were seen mourning in small groups, others choked back tears while talking about their own tryst with sexual violence.
A few sat in silence around floral wreaths.
A few rape victims who joined the mourning demanded to know why their rape was deemed 'less important'. A woman from West Bengal said she came to Delhi four years ago for a job where her employer repeatedly raped by her. "I have been visiting police stations and courts for years now but I am yet to get any respite. The man still roams free," she said.
Some people had wrapped black tapes around their mouth to mark the "black day in the history of the country".
By evening, a massive crowd had gathered at Jantar Mantar, all praying for the girl's soul. Several of them carried posters demanding safety for girls and stricter laws.
The mourning was reflective of the protests that had preceded it where different views on justice were expressed. Some mourners wanted a holistic handling of rape where gender sensitivity has to be introduced at school level while others demanded that the accused be handed over to them so they can be hanged by the mob.
Akhil Katyal, a Delhi University lecturer, said, "Demanding capital punishment takes away from the movement for a safer country which is essentially about gender equality."
Among those who joined the protest included Aam Aadmi Party leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia and senior CPM leader leader Brinda Karat. While most of the mourners were individuals, outfits such as AISA, ABVP and All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) were also present.
Apart from the mourners at Jantar Mantar, residents of nearly 200 colonies carried out candle-light marches in their respective colonies.
Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University also held a silent protest march from the varsity campus to the bus stop in Munirka from where the 23-year-old girl boarded the bus in which she was assaulted.
On the sidelines of the day-long condolence meet at Jantar Mantar, activist Kavita Krishnan declared that the campaign by the Justice For Women Now, a joint body of students, women's organisations and citizens, would not stop.
According to the activist, a silent march will commence at 5pm on Sunday from Vishwa Vidyalaya Metro station, covering areas near the Delhi University campus. "It will be a peaceful protest, as it was today at Jantar Mantar. We want to widen the scope of this movement and increase the involvement of people," said Krishnan.
(with inputs by Ritam Halder)
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