Highlights: Rahul Gandhi says candlelight protest not a political issue, wants Centre to ensure security for women
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Highlights: Rahul Gandhi says candlelight protest not a political issue, wants Centre to ensure security for women

Congress leaders and workers marched towards India Gate in New Delhi on Thursday night to demand justice for women and children who are victims of rape and murder.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2018 12:39 IST
Ridhima Shukla and N Manasa Mohan
Ridhima Shukla and N Manasa Mohan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress women workers carry placards and shout slogans in protest against the rapes of minors in Kathua and Unnao, near India Gate in New Delhi on Thursday night. (Raj K Raj.HT Photo)

Scores of Congress workers assembled near India Gate in central Delhi on Thursday night after party chief Rahul Gandhi called on people to join a “silent, peaceful protest” demanding justice for victims of rape and murder.

Gandhi said the protest was not a political statement, and demanded action from the BJP-led Centre to ensure women’s safety.

“One after another, there have instances of women and children being raped and murdered. We want the government to resolve these issues,” Gandhi said at the vigil.

Several senior Congress leaders, including Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni, were also present at the protest. Gandhi’s sister Priyanka was also there with her husband and children.

Follow live updates:

1:06am: Police begin dispersing crowds thronging the area around India Gate. At least 1,000 people had gathered to join the protest, according to several policemen on duty at the location.

12:57am: “There have been incidents, one after the other, of women and children being murdered and rape. We want the government to take action against this. We want the this (BJP) government to resolve these issues. Women are afraid to step out of their homes,” says Rahul Gandhi near India Gate.

12:45am: This is a matter of security of women, this is not a political issue. There hundreds of people standing hear demanding justice. The Centre needs to do something, Rahul Gandhi says at the vigil.

12:44am: We want the BJP government to address the issues of rape, says Rahul Gandhi.

12:43am: BJP leader Vaibhav Aggarwal calls the Congress-led protest near India Gate a “fashion walk” on NDTV channel. Says people are out there (at the candlelight vigil) taking selfies.

12:42am: Priyanka Vadra has been stopped from reaching India Gate, says NDTV. 

12:39am: NDTV visuals show Priyanka Vadra tells people not to jostle each other and says this is to be a peaceful protest. “Those who are here to push around people must go home,” she says in Hindi.

12:32am: A student present at the protest, Noor Alam, says he has come to seek justice, and not for any political reason.

12:29am: TV reports says Priyanka Vadra is present at the vigil with her children.

Priyanka Vadra (centre, in blue) sits in protest. (Raj k Raj/HT Photo)

12:26am: Scores of people carry lit candles, shout slogans against the government over the rape of minors in Kathua and Unnao. Scenes reminiscent of protests that were carried out in 2012 after the December 16 gang rape of a paramedic in the national capital.

12:21am: Congress leader Randeep Surjewala says the people’s conscience has woken up.

12:15am: Ghulam Nabi Azad accuses the BJP government of sleeping. “So at this time Congress will have to wake them up. PM had given a slogan ‘Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao’ and it’s in his regime that our girls are being raped. He isn’t taking action against his ministers who are trying to save the rape accused,” Nabi says referring to the Unnao case. UP BJP legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar is accused of raping a teenager.

12:13am: Police put up barricades to control crowds heading towards India Gate. People climb over the barricades.

Police barricades block people from advancing. (Ridhima Shukla/HT Photo)

12:10am: Congress president Rahul Gandhi arrives at the vigil, joins the march. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi also present.

12:06am: People chant slogans of ‘Beti bachao’, demand death penalty for the culprits.

12:01am: People begin marching towards India Gate.

11:58pm: Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal says the issues should not be politicised. “Whoever commits such heinous crimes do not have a religion,” he says.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal (Rhidhima Shukla/HT Photo)

11:53pm: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra are also present.

11:55pm: Kapil Sibal, Ambika Soni and Randeep Surjewala are among the Congress leaders present at the vigil.

11:51pm: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks at the candlelight vigil.

11:40pm: Traffic jams on roads leading towards India Gate.

11:30pm: People begin gathering in groups to march towards India Gate.

The girl, who belonged to the nomadic Muslim Bakarwal community, was abducted on January 10 in Kathua district while grazing horses near her home. A retired revenue department official planned the crimes against her, says the chargesheet filed by the crime branch of the Jammu and Kashmir police.

A Special Investigation Team formed to probe the incident has arrested eight people, including two Special Police Officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.

The case has left Jammu on tenterhooks, polarising the region on communal lines and once again exposed fault lines in the ruling coalition.

Several Congress leaders accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being silent on the issue.

First Published: Apr 12, 2018 23:54 IST