New rape protests fizzle, victim airlifted to Singapore

NEW DELHI Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:46pm IST

1 of 3. A demonstrator holds a placard as she takes part in a protest rally in New Delhi December 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mansi Thapliyal

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Police thwarted an attempt by activists on Thursday to rekindle mass protests in New Delhi over the gangrape and ferocious beating of a young woman, after the victim was airlifted to Singapore for specialist hospital care to save her life.

Demonstrations erupted in New Delhi after the December 16 attack, culminating last weekend in pitched battles between police and protesters around the city's India Gate war memorial.

However, activists who gathered on Thursday for a fresh march on India Gate were stopped by police in riot gear armed with tear gas and water cannons to hold them back.

"We will win back our freedom!" the protesters, mostly university students, shouted as they pushed against barricades on a road leading to the city's landmark monument. Unable to make further headway, the crowd dispersed as night fell.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex attacks among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to the National Crimes Records Bureau.

Most rapes and other sex crimes go unreported and offenders are rarely punished, but the brutality of the assault on the medical student in New Delhi triggered public outrage, demands for both better policing and harsher punishment for rapists.

The 23-year-old victim, who was thrown out of a moving bus after being attacked by six men, was flown to Singapore on Wednesday night for treatment at the city-state's Mount Elizabeth Hospital, after more than a week of intensive care in a government hospital in New Delhi.

Dr. Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of the Singapore hospital, said on Thursday evening that the woman was in "an extremely critical condition".

"Prior to her arrival, she has already undergone three abdominal surgeries, and experienced a cardiac arrest in India," Loh said. "A multi-disciplinary team of specialists is taking care of her and doing everything possible to stabilise her condition."

The outcry and spasm of violent protests over the case caught Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government off guard and set off a blame game between politicians and the police.

Singh digressed in a speech on economic planning on Thursday to stress that the safety and security of women was a priority issue for his government, and said there would be a review of the laws and levels of punishment for aggravated sexual assault.

But within an hour of that meeting, his Congress party was plunged into embarrassment over comments made by one of its lawmakers, Abhijit Mukherjee, son of President Pranab Mukherjee.

Mukherjee described the anti-rape demonstrations as a "pink revolution" by women wearing heavy make-up who think it is fashionable to protest.

Quizzed repeatedly on news channels, Mukherjee said he regretted causing offence and apologised. However, his comments had already sparked a wave of fury on social media sites and even his own sister said she was "embarrassed" by her brother.

(Writing by Satarupa Bhattacharjya, Additional reporting by Arup Roychoudhury in New Delhi and Hasan Saeed in Singapore; Editing by John Chalmers and Ron Popeski)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Rising Inflation

Rising Inflation

Food prices push inflation up, limit RBI's room to act.  Full Article 

New Direction

New Direction

New CEO Nadella pushes data culture at Microsoft.  Full Article 

Infosys Results

Infosys Results

Infosys says staff exodus a worry after Q4 profits beat estimates  Full Article 

Deal Talk

Deal Talk

Diageo in $1.9 billion bid to raise stake in United Spirits.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

Domestic fund managers start to bet on own economy  Full Article 

S&P on India

S&P on India

India's policy reforms to affect sovereign ratings - S&P.  Full Article 

Toyota's Performance

Toyota's Performance

After two bumper years, Toyota braces for shift to slower growth.  Full Article 

Third Gender

Third Gender

Supreme Court recognises transgenders as third gender in landmark ruling.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage