iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 31, 2012
Protesters returned with increased vigour to Jantar Mantar amid heavy police presence on Sunday. They continued to demand justice for the 23-year-old gangrape victim who passed away on Saturday.

By Sunday afternoon, Jantar Mantar was choc-a-bloc with students, activists, professionals and senior citizens — a crowd much larger than Saturday.

While some protesters held public discussions on potential solutions to deal with sexual harassment cases, others preferred to sit in small groups holding placards or observing candlelight vigil. A small group of protesters had also observed a day-long fast to mourn the victim.

"We were fasting for the soul of that brave girl. We may continue our fast to seek punishment for the perpetrators of this crime and go on till they are brought to book," said 32-year-old activist Yogita Chakravarty.

As calls for justice grew louder, several women protesters who had gathered said that while a massive shift in laws were required, a vast behavioural change needed to be brought about at the grassroots level.


"When something wrong happens to us, we stay quiet fearing the consequences. More often than not our parents too, tell us not to react. This needs to stop because the more we stay silent, the more lenient we become with perpetrators of such crimes. Yes, laws against sexual crimes need to be revised, but we must also change our mindsets first," said Anisha Nayak, a student protester.

While the 23-year-old gangrape victim's case has drawn flak from the entire nation, people also said that these protests were an attempt to demand justice for all girls who had been sexually harassed.

"There are so many women we have forgotten about. All these girls deserve justice immediately. Fast track courts need to be set up wherein the rapists and molesters are sentenced as soon as possible. The longer the cases remain pending, the longer it takes for justice to be carried out," said Sanjay Narayan Singh, a protester.

While most routes leading to the protest site remain inaccessible, protesters thronged Jantar Mantar in large numbers, criticising the fortress-like situation that had been created in the city.

"When 10 stations are closed down, it is only more unsafe because women and young girls are forced to walk lone stretches for kilometers together to get public transport. Making India Gate and other stretches inaccessible just goes to show how much the police fears the protests. If there is such intense fear, then action must be taken," said Ashish Sharma, a resident of Rohini.