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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Anger Rises As Girl Sinks Shaken By A Tsunami Of Protests, Govt Comes Out With Some Half-Measures

Protesters Force Meet With Shinde; Besiege CM's Home, Police HQ

Jayashree Nandi & Dwaipayan Ghosh TNN 

New Delhi: Protests over Sunday's brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old grew in strength and fury on Wednesday, assuming unprecedented proportions in the national capital even as demonstrations took place in other parts of India. 
    On Wednesday evening, the angry voice of Delhi's students quite literally shook the seats of power. Hundreds of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Jamia Milia Islamia, along with many concerned citizens, stormed the Central Secretariat at 
Raisina Hill and forced a meeting with home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, seeking an explanation on the security lapses that led to the assault. 
    Earlier in the day, protesters laid seige to the CM's residence and police chief's office, pressing ahead relentlessly until panicky cops opened up water canons against them. The protesters, drenched to their bone on a chilly winter day, refused to budge. Meanwhile, the cops had cordoned off most of central Delhi to prevent more protesters from joining in. 

    What started as a spontaneous protest march at India Gate around 6pm, suddenly gained momentum when students marched straight up to the Raisina Hill, jumping police barricades and blocking traffic. The police force guarding the high security zone did little to stop them, looking shocked and overwhelmed by the protest. The students finally gathered in front of North Block, filling the air with slogans such as 'home minister hai hai, home minister jawab do'. They demanded a meeting with the home minister, threatening to continue the protest at the spot until he obliges. 

Carry chilli powder, says Thane top cop 
ith crimes against women rising, Mumbai police chief Satyapal Singh has directed DCPs to look into all complaints filed by women personally. He also said FIRs in such cases must be filed without delay. Meanwhile, his Thane counterpart K P Raghuvanshi has urged girls to avoid night travel and carry chilli powder for self-defence. P 2 'It's police who must do their jobs' 
    It is a historic moment for students here. We have pushed aside barricades and have gheraoed the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Now they have to answer. We will not move from here," said VLenin, president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Association (JNUSU). Student union members said the protest was not just meant to demand an explanation for the recent gangrape in Delhi but about the complete failure in ensuring safety for women around the country. 
    "What about the gangrapes in Haryana? How many of them get reported? What about Chhattisgarh activist Soni Sori who was brutally assaulted by police? We demand an answer for everything. Can you imagine that only 12% of the rape cases get converted to FIRs?" said activist Albina Shakeel. 

    The students also said that the culture of blaming women for 'provoking' sexual violence by being out late or wearing certain kind of clothes had to stop. "Women have the right to wear what they like, go out when they want. It's the police who need to do their job," said another protester. 
    Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde agreed to meet some of the students who went to his residence and submitted a 10-point memorandum. It included suggestions on sensitizing the police force and fasttracking the investigation and judicial process. 
    "It's a shame that our home minister doesn't have any idea of the conviction rate of 26% on sexual offences or that just 12% complaints are converted into FIRs," said Lenin after meeting the minister. The crowd that had also gathered in front of Shinde's house promised to continue protests in coming days.


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