New Delhi, Dec 24: The condition of the young woman brutally raped worsened Monday, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the nation to pray for her and vowed to check “monstrous” crimes against women.
A day after violence in the city centre left scores of civilians and policemen injured, calm returned to the capital even as hundreds continued to protest demanding strict action against the rapists.
A Delhi Police constable badly beaten in the violence remained in critical condition.
Security forces Monday sealed off all roads leading to Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate, causing huge traffic jams, while Delhi Metro shut nine key stations to prevent demonstrators easy access to the capital’s heart.
Shortly before meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Manmohan Singh said in a televised address that he shared the “justified anger and anguish” over the Dec 16 gang-rape but said violence was not called for.
“I assure you we will make all possible efforts to ensure security and safety of women in this country,” he said, adding that he was a “father of three daughters”.
“We will examine without delay not only the responses to this terrible crime but also all aspects concerning the safety of women and children and punishment to those who commit these monstrous crimes.”
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the rapists won’t be spared. “I will take action and I will not spare anyone,” he told television channels.
Shinde and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit later met Delhi High Court Chief Justice Darmar Murugesan to seek fast trial in the case.
At the Safdarjung Hospital, the 23-year-old rape victim’s condition deteriorated due to internal bleeding.
“Her condition is bad and serious compared to yesterday,” said P.K. Verma, the ICU in-charge.
“She continues to be critical but her kidneys are making urine and lungs are fine. She is conscious and communicating,” he said.
The woman’s plight has attracted nationwide sympathy and ignited mass anger, with thousands taking to the streets in Delhi and other cities and towns.
Under intense criticism, authorities Monday suspended two assistant commissioners in Delhi Police for not stopping the bus with tinted windows in which the rape took place for some 40 minutes.
Delhi’s Lt. Governor Tejendra Khanna identified them as Mohan Singh Dabas of Delhi traffic police and Yad Ram of Police Control Room (PCR).
Deputy commissioners Prem Nath (Traffic) and Satyavir Singh Katara (PCR) were told to explain the police lapses. Three policemen had been suspended earlier.
The six accused, who have been arrested, were apparently drunk and on a joy ride. They had earlier robbed a man of Rs.7,000. But when he contacted police, they apparently failed to act.
Delhi Police filed five cases for violence during the protest over the gang-rape and have booked former Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh and yoga guru Baba Ramdev.
A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation met President Pranab Mukherjee in the evening to press its demand for special session of parliament to legislate measures aiming at enhancing security of women.
Talking to media persons after the meeting, BJP leader L.K. Advani said: “Whatever suggestions were given to them were rejected. So we have come to the president, who is the highest official in parliament and in the country.
With India Gate sealed off, hundreds — the number swelling in the afternoon and again slipping towards evening — massed near Jantar Mantar monument, about a kilometre from parliament.
Shouting “We Want Justice”, the young and the middle-aged, watched by policemen and paramilitary personnel, waved placards and the Indian flags. Most people were huddled in small groups. Many were school students.
Protesters who spoke to IANS said that they were not convinced by the prime minister’s assurance that the government would provide security and safety to women.
“It is just lip service and it won’t work any more. We want action,” said Abhijit Sinha, a Delhi University student.
“We will continue with our protests till concrete steps are taken,” said Kavitha Krishnan of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, one of several groups and NGOs taking part in the show of strength.