Hathras gang-rape: Protests at Safdarjung, Delhi braveheart’s mother says nothing has changed
Asha Devi, mother of December 16 gang rape victim, on Tuesday expressed her outrage at the death of a gang rape victim who died at Safdarjung Hospital. The woman was assaulted by four men in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh and had been brought to Delhi for treatment.
Expressing solidarity with the family of the victim, Asha Devi said, “I just want to tell the mother of the victim that she is not alone and I, and many mother like me are standing with her in her fight for justice for her daughter. I can understand what she is going through because I was in her position eight years ago.”
She said that little has changed ever since her daughter was gang-raped in a moving bus eight years ago. “It is upsetting that even after years of fighting for the cause of women’s safety nothing has changed, some other Nirbhaya’s mother is now fighting. Governments change but situation remains the same.”
She also questioned the action taken by the investigating agencies and said that this incident would have become another statistic, if the woman had not lost her life and the “incident had not hit headlines”.
“How many daughters will have to die before some action is taken?” she asked.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at Gate number 5 of Safdarjung hospital, close to the emergency wing, soon after the 19-year-old victim was declared dead. By evening the crowd had swelled to at least 300 people, which included members of the Aam Aadmi Party, the Congress and the Bheem Army. However, no one was arrested or detained from outside the hospital and no medical services were obstructed by the gatherers as the protest remained peaceful, said senior police officers.
Leading the protests outside the hospital, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad said he has appealed to all members of the Dalit community to take to the streets and demand death penalty for the guilty. “The government should not test our patience. We won’t rest until the culprits are hanged,” he said.
The protesters even lit candles and raised slogans demanding justice for the rape victim.
Deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi) Eish Singhal said around 2.30pm, members of Indian Youth Congress and other units of the party tried to reach the Raisina Hill near Vijay Chowk to stage a protest, demanding harsh punishment for the accused.
“The protest at Vijay Chowk was led by Amrita Dhawan, president, Delhi Mahila Congress. 22 men and 14 women were detained and removed from the spot. As the protesters violated prohibitory orders in force due to Covid-19 they were booked under the Epidemic Act and Disaster Management Act. A case was registered against them at Parliament Street police station,” said Singhal.
According to the police, some protesters attempted to block the Ring Road in front of the hospital. Senior police officers, including the joint commissioner of police had reached the spot to control the situation. The traffic was obstructed for a short time but the protesters were removed from the main road using additional police force, police said.
In the evening, as more people started to join the victim’s family members outside the hospital, a team of Uttar Pradesh police left the hospital with the body of the rape victim while her family was still at the hospital. “The UP police team was escorted till the state border under heavy security to ensure there is no law and order situation,” said a police officer, who wished not to be named.
In order to ensure that the gathering outside the hospital doesn’t swell further, Delhi police had to even announce that Safdarjung hospital is a Covid-19 designated hospital and that such a gathering may result in mass transmission of the virus.
Deputy commissioner of police (southwest) Devender Arya said after the family members left, the protesters were also completely dispersed by 9.30pm. “No one was arrested or detained from outside Safdarjung hospital. It was ensured throughout that the hospital services are nor obstructed in anyway,” he said.
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj, who had also reached Safdarjung hospital, accused that Delhi MLA Ajay Dutt, who is also a local Dalit leader, was beaten up by Delhi Police officials.
“The relatives of the victim have been calling me, complaining that they are neither being allowed to come to Delhi nor being given any information about the body,” Bharadwaj alleged.