New Delhi: As protests over the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in the national capital refused to die down across the nation, Delhi Police on Monday finalised the draft chargesheet in the case and was expected to submit it in a court on Thursday. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde wrote to all political parties inviting suggestions for amendment in laws dealing with rape and sexual offences. The girl succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital on Saturday morning and her last rites were performed in New Delhi in 'extreme secrecy' early Sunday.
The government is planning to amend the law to provide for death penalty in the rarest of rare sexual assault cases. Some parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have been demanding a special session of Parliament to discuss the amendments and for enacting stringent laws to deter rape.
Sources said Shinde will ask the political parties to send their suggestions on the matter to the Justice JS Verma Committee, which has been constituted for reviewing the present statute so as to provide for speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault. The BJP, however, appeared unimpressed with Shinde's letters to all parties, saying it will use Parliament as a forum to voice its views and reiterated its demand for a special session.
Under the existing law, the maximum punishment for rape is life term but the nationwide outrage over the December 16 gangrape of the physiotherapy student in a moving bus in Delhi has sparked a demand for death penalty to rapists.
Mourning the death of the young woman, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the Armed Forces said they won't organise any celebrations ahead of the New Year. Several hotels, clubs and residents associations in the national capital also decided to either cancel planned festivities or scale back parties in a show of sympathy for the Delhi braveheart's family.
Amidst all this, the Delhi and the Uttar Pradesh governments announced financial assistance of Rs 15 lakh and Rs 20 lakh respectively. A women helpline number - 181 - was also launched in Delhi on Monday but the number itself appeared 'helpless' as it wasn't working. Though officials claimed the glitches were rectified by the evening, calls made on the number from landline and mobile phones were greeted by music on several occasions.
With the gangrape incident being the focus of the nation for the last two weeks, President Pranab Mukherjee in his New Year message said that 2013 should be dedicated in welfare of women. In a touching message, the President said: "We mark the advent of the New Year under a pall of gloom, as the nation mourns the tragic loss of a brave young girl who became the victim of a heinous crime."
Meanwhile, protests continued in the national capital. Though all the closed metro stations and barricaded routes in central Delhi were reopened on Monday, prohibitory orders were still in place in New Delhi district and protesters were allowed to gather only at Ramlila Maidan and Jantar Mantar.
Security has been tightened across the nation ahead of the New Year and heavy police deployment has been done to ensure more such heinous crimes don't take place.