People from all walks of life were seen taking part in a candle march in New Delhi late on Saturday evening to demand justice for the families of rape victims from Hyderabad and Unnao.
Shouting slogans, angry protesters marched from Raj Ghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, towards India Gate, a memorial dedicated to soldiers of the two world wars in the central vista of New Delhi. They accuse the government of failing to maintain law and order.
Delhi: People hold candle march from Raj Ghat— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2019
to India Gate, demanding justice for the Unnao rape victim who died yesterday. pic.twitter.com/qwV37RebfY
Indian Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claimed that the reason for increasing lawlessness in the country was because of a breakdown of institutional structures and also because the man “running the country believes in violence and [in the] indiscriminate use of power".
India was now certified as the “rape capital of the world”, said Gandhi at a rally of Congress supporters in his parliamentary constituency of Wayanad in India’s southern Kerala state.
Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, Kerala: India is known as the rape capital of the world. Foreign nations are asking the question why India is unable to look after its daughters and sisters. A UP MLA of BJP is involved in rape of a woman and the Prime Minister doesnot say a single word. pic.twitter.com/GXL7yJDEQX— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2019
After visiting the home of the family of a 23-year-old rape victim in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, Congress politician and Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said: “At the social level, we all are guilty, but at the same time, this also points out to the hollow law and order mechanism in Uttar Pradesh".
“The fear is such that it seems next to impossible for a woman to even step out of her house and walk a few yards”, she added.
Delhi: Police use water canons on protesters who were holding a candle march from Raj Ghat— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2019
to India Gate. Protestors are demanding justice for the Unnao rape victim who died yesterday. pic.twitter.com/Q4g9ETtDRe
In Jodhpur city, India’s Chief Justice S.A. Bobde stirred controversy by saying justice “can never be instant and loses its character when it becomes revenge”.
He was referring to the encounter killing of four persons who had been accused of raping, murdering, and burning a Hyderabad-based 26-year-old veterinarian last month. The accused were eliminated by Telangana Police early on Friday morning for allegedly trying to flee.
The recent events in the country again sparked an old debate on why rapists are often exonerated in spite of the heinousness of their crimes. Bobde added there is no doubt that the criminal justice system must reconsider its position and attitude towards the time taken in disposing such cases.
India’s Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad urged the chief justice and other senior judges to introduce a mechanism to ensure faster disposal of such cases to restore the rule of law at the earliest.
Union Law Min RS Prasad: Central & state govts have proposed for constitution of 1023 new fast track courts across country. Out of these 1023, consensus has been reached on 400 and more than 160 have already become operational. Also, 704 fast track courts were already operational pic.twitter.com/JiVzIOXiCM— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2019
Senior lawyer and human rights activist Sudha Ramalingam said: "Justice has to be delivered by the judiciary and not anybody else. Encounter is something that is very barbaric and cannot be accepted at all. It is against the civilised notion of delivery of justice".
"We are not living in a banana republic. If we give such power to the police to shoot down people then what is the need of the criminal justice system. We can't celebrate the encounter like this", added Kamini Jaiswal, another lawyer.
These comments came after the death of the 23-year-old Unnao rape victim on Friday, a day after she was airlifted from Lucknow to a New Delhi hospital with 90 percent burns.
According to the police, five miscreants threw kerosene on the woman and set her ablaze while she was on her way to a local court for the hearing of a rape case she had filed in March.
The Hyderabad and Unnao rape and murder incidents are a reminder of a gruesome rape and fatal assault that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Delhi. The incident took place when a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern was beaten, gang-raped, and tortured in a private bus in which she was travelling by six men.
Eleven days after the assault, she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for emergency treatment but succumbed to her injuries two days later.