reuters is a kept press. Gives only the govt’s perverted story.
Sonia’s mafia was let loose to mingle among honest protesters to turn it into violence so the police can justify the assault on real protesters
Government clamps down on gang-rape protests, PM appeals for calm
By Ross Colvin and Arup Roychoudhury
NEW DELHI | Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:20pm IST
(Reuters) – Authorities throttled movement in the heart of the capital on Monday, shutting roads and railway stations in a bid to restore law and order after police fought pitched battles with protesters enraged by the gang rape of a young woman.
In an unusual televised address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for calm following the weekend clashes in New Delhi and vowed to punish the rapists for their “monstrous” crime.
Singh’s government, often accused by critics of being out of touch with the aspirations of many Indians, has been caught off-guard by the depth of the popular outrage as protests have snowballed and spread to other cities. India is seen as one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman.
Instead of channelling the outrage, the government has found itself on the defensive over the use of force against the protesters and complaints that it has done little in its eight years in power to create a safer environment for women.
The protests have been the biggest in the capital since 2011 demonstrations against corruption that rocked the government.
“People are not reacting to just one rape case. They are reacting to the general malaise, the frustration with the leadership. There is a feeling that the leadership is completely disconnected,” said political analyst Neerja Chowdhury.
Police barricaded roads leading to India Gate, an imposing Arc de Triomphe-style war memorial in the centre of the city, that has become a hub of the protests by mostly college students. Many metro rail stations in fog-shrouded Delhi were also closed, crippling movement around the city of 16 million.
The protests overshadowed an official visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin and disrupted his schedule.
The 23-year-old victim of the December 16 attack, who was beaten, raped for almost an hour and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi, was still in a critical condition on respiratory support, doctors said.
For video on protests: click reut.rs/12K46Ne
For vidoe on prime minister’s appeal for calm: clickreut.rs/YErBry
In the weekend spasm of violent protests, police use batons, teargas and water cannon against demonstrators around the capital. Protests and candle-light vigils have also taken place in other Indian cities but they have been more peaceful.
“I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm. I assure you we will make all possible efforts to ensure security and safety of women in this country,” Singh said in his televised address to the nation.
Singh has been under fire for remaining largely silent since the rape. He issued a statement for the first time on Sunday, a week after the crime. Sonia Gandhi, chief of the ruling Congress Party, has met some of the protesters to hear their demands.
Comments by political commentators, sociologists and protesters suggest the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration that many Indians have over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social and economic issues.
“There is a huge amount of anger. People are deeply upset that despite so many incidents there has not been much response from the state and the government,” said social activist Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research in Delhi.
SOCIAL MEDIA SITES DRIVE PROTESTS
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. A global poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place in the world to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.
Since last week’s rape, the authorities have promised better police patrolling to ensure safety for women returning from work and entertainment districts, more buses at night, and fast-track courts for swift verdicts on cases of rape and sexual assaults.
But protesters view those measures as inadequate and are looking for the government to take a firmer stand on sexual assaults countrywide, most of which go unreported.
Reported rape cases in India have increased by 9.2 percent to 24,206 cases in 2011 from 22,172 the previous year, according to the latest figures from the National Crime Record Bureau,
“This is not about that one rape,” said aspiring fashion designer Shruti Sharma, 24, at a protest in Delhi on Monday.
“This is about how crime is rampant in our cities. We are angry at the government for not ensuring the safety of its citizens. The judiciary is slow. Cases take too long.”
Opposition political parties, normally quick to exploit the government’s vulnerabilities, have largely been sidelined in the protests, which have mostly been organised through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The protesters come from all walks of life but many are young and middle class. Political commentators see their involvement as evidence of growing frustration with the government’s focus on poor and rural voters and a failure to pass on the benefits of a decade of rapid economic growth.
So far, however, the protesters’ focus has been on the rape case rather than on other grievances.
(Additional reporting By Rajesh Kumar Singh and Satarupa Bhattacharjya in New Delhi, Sujoy Dhar in Kolkata, Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow, Ashok Pahalwan in Jammu, writing by Ross Colvin; Editing by John Chalmers and Robert Birsel)
A Government in Hiding
Protestors from Raisina Hill began to be forcibly removed late last night. The police action continued in the foggy cold of this December morning. Aghast at the violence on a completely peaceful gathering of students – some of them just school children – many of us too felt compelled to join the demonstrations. A number of left-wing student groups who have been part of the protests had called for collecting at the Neel Gumbaz at Nizamuddin. At 11 am, we all started collecting there – many of us older folk going there in solidarity with what has been one of the most unprecedented student-youth mobilizations in the city. Yesterday, there had been repeated rounds of water cannons, tear-gas and brutal lathi-charge by the police of a government that has gone into hiding.
Finally, some 600-700 of us began moving in a procession from Nizamuddin to India Gate. When we reached there, we discovered that already large numbers of people had begun recongregating at ‘Rajpath’ – the Power Avenue where every January the Republic displays its military might to the world. The numbers were continuously swelling. A group of supporters of Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP – inclduing Kejriwal and other leaders – were squatting on one side, towards Hyderabad House. This was virtually on the margins of the area where the main crowds were. Apart from the group of people we had come with, there were hundreds who seemed to us to be completely unaffiliated ordinary students, contrary to some claims floating around in Facebook that these were ‘RSS crowds’. At one end a human chain had been erected and slogan shouting for justice continued. Around the Amar Jawan Jyoti, there were processsions of students still coming in. We were there till about 2 pm and there was no question of any violence at all – except for three unprovoked tear gas shells that had been lobbed by the police into the crowd. There had been some minor commotion as the police occassionally tried to push back students with a lathi charge of sorts.
By this time, however, it was apparent that the police was preparing for the offensive. Police briefings were taking place in different groups and gradually the crowd was being surrounded from all sides. And yet, till about 2.50 pm, despite twenty rounds of tear gas being fired by the police, as well as periodic lathi charges – they did not manage to provoke violence from the crowd to justify a crackdown. But the crackdown had to take place. And lo and behold, the justifications for it materialized, suspiciously, very soon. Bonojit Hussain sent this update after the round of violent eviction of the protestors:
Just back from India Gate. Police crackdown through out the day was severe with endless rounds of tear gas shelling, baton and water canon charges. But what was more disturbing was that as the day progressed, the protest was taken over by mob.It was height of lumpenism; several women protesters were molested; sexist slogans overtook slogans for gender justice; watch towers were put on fire and vehicles overturned. It can be summed by an oxymoron – “Machismo and Testosterone against Rape”.
So, who were these people who suddenly materialized and took over the protest area in exactly the way that the police wanted them to? Who were these people who gave the police the much needed alibi alongside their display of sexist machismo? It is highly unlikely that they were ‘protestors’. There is only one word for such elements who surface repeatedly in the history of mass movements: agent provocateurs. Some people seem to have identified them as NSUI elements. Perhaps there were some others too like ABVP, but it seems most likely that they were the stormtroopers of the Congress party.
When we got back home, most reports on television too uderlined the fact that there had been a violent police attack on utterly peaceful protestors. Of all the footage that I could see, I did not see a single one where the ‘lumpens’ were being beaten and attacked. They had done their work and conveniently moved to a safe distance from where they continued to pelt stones but the police made no attempt to get them. Apart from the pro-Congress NDTV and the somewhat chastized CNN-IBN, most of the others clearly showed that the police violence was entirely one-sided.
One more thing needs to be stated clearly, especially for the benefit of those misled by the die-hard left-wing and other assorted cynics. Yes there were slogans about ‘death penalty’ and ‘castration’ but there were as many slogans that asserted different viewpoints – ‘Take Back the Night’, ‘Don’t teach your daughter not to go out; Teach your son to behave properly’; ‘Mere skirt se oonchi meri awaz hai’. And not all those who raise demands for ‘death penalty’ are incorrigible rightists – these are just young people spontaneously expressing their anger. So, for instance, when one of us got into a conversation with a group of students who were raising this slogan and explained why feminists have a problem with such a demand, they listened attentively. Not only did they listen; they were actually open to seeing the other point of view. [In any case, we might do well to remember that the question of capital punishment is not a settled issue among ‘Leftists’ either – many of whom pass off summary executions in China in complete silence!].
Finally, a small point about the demands of the movement. Unfortunately, our imagination still does not go beyond demanding new laws. That is our most common and unthought response to any crisis. And that is why the Home Minister could take us for a ride by promising a stringent law that would provide for death penbalty in “the rarest of rare rape cases” – whatever that means. The fact that there are no convictions in rape cases has nothing to do with lack of stringency of the law. It has everything to do with rampant patriarchal values in the very processes of the law, where every rape trial becomes a farcical replay of the rape, as if it is the raped woman who is on trial.
But most importantly, low conviction rate in rape cases has everything to do with the police. First, it has to do with the fact that the police refuses to even register FIRs in a majority of rape cases. The woman who goes to a police station to register an FIR is most likely to face more humiliation there. More stringent laws will only give more powers to an already corrupt and brutal police force to harass ordinary people, frame innocents and let the culprits go scot free.
Perhaps this is the time to look beyond mere demand for new laws and to focus on the decrepit and corrupt entity that the police force is. It is the police that should be the target of our exertions right now. The Police force in Delhi – as indeed in the rest of the country – needs to be thoroughly revamped in terms of training, accountability and gender sensitivity.