Protesting students say police, civic agency removed braveheart memorials

On the first anniversary of the brutal gang rape that took place on December 16 last year, a group of students got together at Jantar Mantar on Friday to 'build' what they called a 'Damini Chowk' as a token of remembrance.
By Vineet Upadhyay | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 17, 2013 01:40 AM IST

On the first anniversary of the brutal gang rape that took place on December 16 last year, a group of students got together at Jantar Mantar on Friday to 'build' what they called a 'Damini Chowk' as a token of remembrance.

The gang rape victim was given various symbolic names such as 'Damini' (lightening), 'Nirbhaya' (fearless) and 'Amanat' (treasure) by various media channels and newspapers for her indomitable spirit.

Those who have set up the memorial said they met with stiff resistance from the police when they had initially set up camp at India Gate last year.

"We were shooed away from India Gate when we had protested and since then we have been here. Damini Chowk is representative of a movement which seeks a change in the existing laws," said Ritendra Kumar (21), a student. The group has also formed a page on Facebook, named '16 December Kranti'.

However, the group claimed that no sooner had they set up camp at Jantar Mantar, they were asked to move by civic authorities. They now sit under a tree with the memorial, candles, banners and an appeal for justice by their side.

"People from New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) came and removed our tent without any notice or reason. Since then we've moved 'Damini Chowk' under a tree," Kumar added.

However, when HT contacted NDMC authorities, they stated that they had "no knowledge of the incident".

The days following the gang rape resulted in a countrywide eruption of public outrage with the city's youth thronging Raisina Hill and India Gate to register their protest.

"Our demands are very clear. We want an amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act. Marital rape should be brought under the ambit of rape and acid attacks should be considered as grave as sexual assault," said Raman Chowdhry (25), a lawyer.

The group, which also included students from Delhi University's College of Art, had also gathered to protest and voice their concern about the lack of safety for women in the city.

"Delhi is not safe yet. I never step outside of my house alone. Sometimes it seems that society has become used to such crimes and has turned a blind eye towards it," said Preeti Rai (20), a DU student.

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