The hours-long gang-rape and near-fatal beating of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi triggered outrage and anger across the country as Indians demanded action from authorities who have long ignored persistent violence and harassment against women.
In the streets and in parliament, calls rose for stringent and swift punishment against those attacking women, including a proposal to make rapists eligible for the death penalty. As the calls for action grew louder, two more gang-rapes were reported, including one in which the 10-year-old victim was killed.
“I feel it is sick what is happening across the country. It is totally sick, and it needs to stop,” said Smitha, a 32-year-old protester.
Thousands of demonstrators clogged the streets in front of New Delhi’s police headquarters, protested near parliament, and rallied outside a university. Angry students set up roadblocks across the city, causing massive traffic jams.
Hundreds rallied outside the home of the city’s top elected official before police dispersed them with water cannon, a move that earned further condemnation from opposition leaders, who accused the government of being insensitive.
Meanwhile, the 23-year-old victim of the rape lay in critical condition in the hospital with severe internal injuries, doctors said.
Police said six men raped the woman and savagely beat her and her companion with iron rods on a bus driving around the city — passing through several police checkpoints — before stripping them and dumping them on the side of the road on Sunday night.
Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar said four men have been arrested and a search was under way for the other two.
Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress Party, visited the victim, promised swift action against the perpetrators, and called for police to be trained to deal with crimes against women.
Analysts and protesters said the surge of anger was chiefly due to increasing incidents of crime against women and the seeming inability of authorities to protect them.
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