New Delhi: Facing stinging criticism over the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old girl on December 16 in a moving bus in Delhi and the police crackdown on protesters demanding justice for her, the Central Government assured of strictest action in the case. Minister of State for Home RPN Singh while talking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai said, "Fast-track courts will be set up with day-to-day hearing. The case will be started in the next 48-72 hours. We have made the commitment in the morning. We are going to make Delhi safer."
Singh apologised to the protesters for the police action but added that anti-social elements were trying to indulge in violence. "We have inputs on elements behind the violence today. I apologise to both young boys and girls who got beaten up, but lumpen elements were behind the violence that erupted at India Gate. I want to assure the people that culprits will not get away. Strict action will be taken against senior officers of Delhi Police if they are found to be lacking in taking responsibility," said Singh.
His statement came just a few hours after thousands of protesters were forcefully evicted from India Gate by Delhi Police. The police resorted to lathicharge, fired teargas shells and used water cannons against the protesters, some of whom had clashed with the security forces. The protesters, who have been demanding justice for the 23-year-old survivor of the brutal gangrape and vicious physical assault in a moving bus by a group of men, accused the police of using brute force and demanded Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar's resignation.
The MoS for Home apologised for the police action but added that anti-social elements were trying to indulge in violence.
However, Kumar ruled out his resignation and said that he "did not believe in quitting" and would continue to do his job even as he admitted that his force could have handled the situation at India Gate in Sunday in a better way. The comment came after Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit demanded that senior police officers should take accountability for the gangrape incident and the crack down at India Gate.
More than 140 protesters including mediapersons and police personnel, who were covering protest at India Gate, were injured in Sunday's clashes at India Gate. One police constable, Subhash Tomar, has been seriously injured and is battling for life at Delhi Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
However, justifying the action against protestors at India Gate, the Police Commissioner said that hooligans and political elements had hijacked the peaceful protests which resulted in violence and destruction of public property, and so they were forced to use teargas and water cannons to maintain law and order in a highly sensitive area of the national capital which includes Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhawan and important government offices.
India Gate resembled a battle zone with empty tear gas shells, uprooted and burnt barricades, and several articles belonging to the protesters littering the roads as they ran helter-skelter following the crack down. The area has been cordoned off and police reinforcements have been rushed to Raisina Hill that divides the North and South Block, which houses the Prime Minister's Office.
However, protesters have refused to disperse from the place. A large number of protestors once again gathered at India Gate after the police personnel had left.
Meanwhile, Sheila Dikshit met Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to review law and order situation in the capital. After meeting Shinde, Sheila said that the movement will lose its seriousness if it's politicised.
Earlier in the day, Congress President Sonia Gandhi met a group of protestors and assured them that all steps will be taken to fast-track the case so that the assailants get punishment.
Various political parties have demanded a special Parliament session to convene a special session of Parliament for amending the existing law to provide death sentence for heinous crimes against women. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj called for an all-party meeting and made an appeal to youths not to resort to violence, saying this is not the solution.
Meanwhile, the gangrape survivor had to be operated upon again after her condition worsened. The 23-year-old survivor of the brutal gangrape and assault continues to be serious and is not out of danger although doctors say she is stable, conscious and been communicating with them and her family members.