Parliament on Tuesday expressed shock and outrage over the barbaric gangrape of a girl inside a moving bus in South Delhi with strong demands being made for capital punishment to perpetrators of such heinous crimes.
The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha saw members of all parties speaking in unison and raising serious concern over repeated incidents of rape in the national capital, whose law and order comes directly under the Union Home Ministry.
Opposition members demanded a categorical assurance from home minister Sushilkumar Shinde that such an incident will not recur.
Women members in both Houses were in the forefront in expressing shock and anguish over the incident, voicing concern over the safety of the fair sex in Delhi. Cinestar-turned-MP Jaya Bachchan even broke down while speaking on the issue in the Upper House.
In the Lok Sabha, Speaker Meira Kumar led the House in expressing outrage over the "spine-chilling" incident, saying it was shameful for the entire society.
She asked the government to take strong steps immediately in the matter as an impromptu debate took place in both Houses over Sunday night's incident in which the 23-year-old para-medic was raped and brutally assaulted.
Women shout slogans during a protest following the gangrape of a 23-year-old woman in moving bus in New Delhi. AFP Photo
Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj made a strong pitch for capital punishment for such crimes, a demand which did not find favour with Girija Vyas (Cong), who said such a penalty would lead to killing of women after rape.
Swaraj, however, got support from her party colleague Najma Heptulla as well as UPA ally DMK member Vasanthy Stanley and V Maitreyan (AIADMK) in the Rajya Sabha, who said "these culprits should be hanged till death".
Maitreyan also urged the government to amend the law and introduce death penalty for rapists.
"Death penalty is the only punishment that is to be given. We can enact a law. This will serve as a deterrent," Heptulla said.
Eminent jurist and Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani demanded removal of the Delhi Police chief over the failure to check the "heinous" crime.
Women members in both Houses said that the "barbaric" incidents of rape turned a woman into a living corpse and therefore there was need to give death penalty to perpetrators.
BSP chief Mayawati said law should be amended to ensure stronger action in such cases. "Nothing will happen by only arresting the perpetrators. Give them stringent punishment," she said.
Jethmalani said, "Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri set an example of democratic responsibilities that somebody's head must roll.
"I am not asking for the Home Minister's head...But the head of the Delhi Police chief must roll and you must ensure that this happens if he does not do it (resign) voluntarily."
Jaya Bachchan (SP), who stood in protest for quite some time over not being allowed to speak on the issue of women's safety in Delhi, said an act of sexual assault should be treated on par with murder and section 307 of IPC should be amended to include rape in it.
"I am terribly disturbed...I am very shocked," Bachchan said in a choked voice.
Derek'O' Brien (TMC) said as he spoke on the issue in the House, he was "nervous and scared as a father of a 17-year-old daughter" as Delhi is becoming "rape capital".
"It is not a woman's issue. It is a male issue. Men have stopped behaving like human beings and started behaving like animals...worse than animals," he said.
Attacking Shinde over the incident, Maya Singh (BJP) said the gangrape raises a question as to whether it is the rule of the law or rule of goondas in Delhi.
"The incident continued for 90 minutes not in a village or some jungle but in South Delhi... who will take responsibility -- you or the Delhi chief minister. You look after Delhi police," she said.
Singh said the House should pass a proposal that no lawyer will plead on behalf of the perpetrators of such crime.
M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said a strong political will was needed to check these "very shameful" incidents. "Condolence for the dead and compensation to survivors cannot be a policy," he said.
"Every time an incident like this takes place, Government appears to be helpless. Is there a government, is there a system? The Home Minister should take moral responsibility," Naidu, who is also the Chairman of Home Ministry's Standing Committee, said.
Prashant Chatterjee (CPI-M) said the unimaginable barbaric incident happened even as the vehicle in which all that took place passed three PCR vans. A television footage showed there was no police at any of these points, he said.
Renuka Chowdhary (Cong) said this is not the time to nitpick and say who is to blame collectively. "It is our collective social failure," he said.
Swaraj earlier said it was lamentable that such incidents continued to happen in the capital city, which is the seat of power of the Centre and where a woman is chief minister.
Vyas, a former Chairman of the National Commission for Women, said Parliament should expeditiously enact law on sexual offence.
She regretted that in recent times, there has not been much security in the buses especially during evening. Besides, there has been inadequate police patrolling in sensitive areas.
Vyas made a strong pitch for fast track courts to deal with such crimes.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Mayawati said, "Those who commit such type of crimes and these incidents are on the rise, it is a serious issue. Centre should seriously look into it.
"There is a need to make the law stronger so that strict action could be taken against persons involved in the crime so that these kind of actions do not happen again," she said.
Describing the incident as "sad", Mayawati said, "If such an incident can happen in the capital of the country, then it will have a very wide ranging effect on the whole country."
Referring to her regime, she said "I would like to say that whenever such incidents happen in UP during our party's rule we had taken very strong action against the culprits."
Condemning the incident, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, "This is not an isolated incident as there were many such incidents in the past. Law should be made stronger and there should be a system to deliver justice in a faster way."
Attacking the police administration, Yechury said, "Law and order in Delhi is directly under Central government. Home Ministry is directly responsible for law and order situation in Delhi.
"Shinde should explain in the House what steps are being taken to prevent such incidents because these cases are on the alarming rise. If necessary, law should be changed so that it can work as a deterrent," he said.
Taking on the government, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaj Hussain said, "There is a jungle raj in Delhi. Congress is ruling in Delhi and the same party is in power in the Centre. So, who is responsible for such crime."
Hussain said, "There is a need to improve the law order situation in the capital. Law should be made stronger. But government is not making any laws and whatever law is there, government is not implementing it."
Delhi BJP leader Vijay Goel, who met the home minister, said government should set up fast track courts to deal such cases.
"We met the Home Minister demanding setting up fast track courts and he has assured us that he will look into it," he said, noting that such courts are functioning in Rajasthan and Odisha.