Fuelled by the outrage over the brutal rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, a sea of people descended on the streets of Delhi on Friday evening to protest against the rising crimes against women in India.
The woman, who was allegedly gangraped and badly thrashed in her native Hathras village, around 200 km from Delhi, by four men belonging to upper caste, died on Tuesday morning at a hospital in Delhi. She had suffered multiple fractures, paralysis and severe spinal injury in the attack, as per her medical report.
What triggered the outrage was the brutality meted out to the woman and the post-midnight funeral by police, and that too, in the absence of her family members. And an attempt by a top cop to discount the gangrape allegations added fuel to the fire.
Additional Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police Prashant Kumar told the media on Thursday that a forensic report had found "no semen or semen excretion" in the viscera sample of the woman, suggesting that the cause of death was due to "trauma caused by the assault".
Friday's protests in Delhi were led by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at Jantar Mantar, after authorities clamped prohibitory orders in and around the nearby iconic India Gate, where the agitators had earlier planned to meet. Soon, thousands, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, joined in.
"We will ensure justice for our sister. We won't sit quietly till she does not get justice," Gandhi said, addressing a crowd of Congress supporters. On Thursday, she and her brother Rahul were briefly detained by police as they tried to visit the village where the woman was savagely attacked on September 14.
Kejriwal, on his part, demanded nothing less than capital punishment for the cultprits. "I urge the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure strictest punishment for the accused. The culprits should be hanged," the Delhi Chief Minister said.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that his government is "committed to the safety, security and development of all mothers and sisters".
"Those who even think of harming mothers and daughters in UP, their destruction is assured. They will get such punishment that will set an example for the future. The government of UP is committed to the safety and security and development of all mothers and sisters. This is our commitment and promise," the Chief Minister tweeted on Friday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier asked Yogi to ensure strictest punishment for the culprits.
Rapes in India are on the rise, despite the government bringing in new laws to curb the menace, following the brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student by six men on a moving bus in the national capital some eight years ago.