New Delhi: A group of anti-rape protesters met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi at their residence 10 Janpath in New Delhi on Sunday. After their meeting with the leaders, the protesters said that they have assured of speedy action in the case.
Thousands of people have been protesting in Delhi demanding justice for the 23-year-old woman, who was raped in a moving bus in the national capital on the fateful night of December 16. Braving the winter chill, people held an overnight vigil on Saturday after protesting through the day at Rashtrapati Bhawan, outside Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's house and the residence of Sonia.
In a surprise move, Sonia came out on Saturday night to meet the protesters and spoke to them. She then asked few of the protesters to come and meet her on Sunday morning.
After the nearly 90-minute meeting on Sunday, the protesters appealed for calm but said demonstrations would not end. The protesters, who refused to be identified, met the Gandhis at Sonia's 10 Janpath residence where Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh and Congress leader Renuka Chaudhury also joined the discussions.
"We had a meeting with Sonia and Rahul. She heard us and told us that the government needs time to meet all demands like amending laws," one of the protesters told reporters in New Delhi. Another protester said Rahul told them that they are for bringing in changes but echoed his mother remarks, saying they
need time and all the changes could not be done in a very short span of time.
Singh, who also spoke to reporters, said the representatives of protesters gave 12-13 suggestions on fighting crime against women. "During the meeting, they were assured that the case will be heard in fast-track courts. They specifically said that they want accused to prove their innocence rather victim proving (it)," he said but refused to give a timeline for punishing the criminals.
"We cannot give a time-frame as only judges can decide. But we will ask for day-to-day hearing and the Delhi Police will aid the courts in delivering speedy justice," Singh said. "We have appealed to the protesters. The demands are being met. The government has heard them loud and clear. We are acting on their demands," the Minister said.
Asked about clamping of prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in New Delhi, Singh defended the move, saying, "Some unfortunate things happened yesterday (Saturday). Many youths got injured. We don't this to happen. To save youths from this, we decided to take this step. "99.99 per cent of the protesters want a peaceful protest but there are 0.1 per cent who wants something else," he said.
(With additional information from PTI)