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India remembers Delhi braveheart

Last updated on: December 16, 2013 22:01 IST

India remembers Delhi braveheart

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Street plays, rallies and candlelight vigils were staged in Delhi and several parts of the country on Monday in memory of a young woman whose savage gang rape on a moving bus in New Delhi on this day one year ago evoked a nationwide anger and outrage of the sort rarely witnessed.

Light a candle for Nirbhaya

The first anniversary of the assault of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student on the night of December 16 that shook the nation's conscience also saw questions being raised as to whether police are doing more to protect women and courts treating sexual violence seriously.

In a moving tribute, a group of protesting young activists retraced the victim's fateful route from Saket to Mahipalapur in south Delhi.

A number of people lit candles at Munirka bus stop from she boarded a private bus while going home from a cinema with a male friend and suffered a brutal sexual assault at the hands of six men, including with an iron rod. The girl died from her injuries 13 days later at a Singapore hospital. 

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Image: School children shout slogans as they hold candles during a candle light vigil to mark the first anniversary of the Delhi gang rape
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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The parents of the victim participated at a prayer meeting where the mother broke down while remembering her daughter.

"We have not yet got justice. We want all the culprits including the one, who was a juvenile at the time of the incident, to be hanged," the father said.

Citizen Artist Group organised a campaign in memory of the braveheart by displaying a 16-metre painting done by 25 artists and a live painting at Jantar Mantar.

A prayer meeting was held in Constitution Club in New Delhi where political leaders cutting across party lines spoke of changes in social attitudes, tough new laws and police reform adopted after the massive street protests.

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Image: Demonstrators attend a candlelight vigil to mark the first anniversary of Delhi gang rape
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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Rock band performances by school students and musical shows and lectures on crimes against women by various activists from various organizations were among other events that marked the first anniversary of the Delhi gangrape that turned a global spotlight on the treatment of women in India.

Streetplays and candlelight vigils were also held in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore where massive protests had erupted after the gruesome incident.

The girl's mother said her daughter's bravery before her death should continue to motivate Indian women to "fight against such crimes and to raise their voices against such crimes".

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Image: Demonstrators perform a street play on rape during a protest to mark the first anniversary of the Delhi gang rape
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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Boarding a chartered whiteline bus from Saket to recreate the route, activists stopped by at the Munrika bus stand and chanted slogans and sang songs for "fearless freedom".

The gathering included students, artists, photographers, feminists and film actress Swara Bhaskar also lent a visible and vocal support to them. Her father and strategic affairs expert C Uday Bhaskar was also seen in the crowd.

Wearing red, black and pink bandanas they held aloft placards reading "We'll Take No More", "Bekhauf Azadi", "Silence Hides Violence --- Speak Up" and "Nirbhaya -- One Year Later" and recalled that fateful night. 

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Image: Protesters carry placards as they shout slogans during a protest to mark the first anniversary of the Delhi gang rape
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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India remembers Delhi braveheart

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"We are marking the day by retracing the route taken by Nirbhaya and her friend that day from Saket to Mahipalpur in a chartered whiteline bus. We want people to tell that we have not forgotten...and yes, I believe that change is possible, if we can work together," Swara told PTI.

The Delhi police had initially arrested six persons, including a juvenile. However, main accused Ram Singh was found hanging in his cell at Tihar, so the proceedings against him stood abated.

The juvenile was handed three years at the correction home prescribed under the Juvenile Justice Act. The other four adult accused Akshay, Vinay, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh were sentenced to death by a trial court in September. 

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Image: A demonstrator holds a placard as she attends a candlelight vigil to mark the first anniversary of Delhi gang rape
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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On September 13, while awarding capital punishment to Mukesh, Akshay, Pawan and Vinay, the trial court had referred the case to the high court for confirmation of the sentence where the hearing is underway.

The Justice Verma Committee, which was set up to recommend amendments to the criminal law so as to provide for quicker trials and greater punishment for those committing sexual assaults against women, submitted its report in one month, a timeline that was unprecedented.

It took up the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace, trafficking, acid attacks and made a number of suggestions about setting up rape crisis centres, CCTVs and so on, all aimed at preventing and addressing sexual assaults against women. 

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Image: Protestors shout slogans as they hold candles during a candle light vigil to mark the first anniversary of the Delhi gang rape
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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A number of organisations held demonstrations at Jantar Mantar where the anger among the women was quite palpable.

"Rapes were happening before December 16, 2012 and they continue to take place. In fact, since the incident, there have been many cases of rapes, gangrapes, molestation and sexual harassment of women at workplaces. Even after nation-wide protests and awareness campaigns, women safety remains an unattended issue," said activist Sehba Farooqui.

NFIW General Secretary Annie Raja expressed her disgust at the non-utilisation of the fund created for helping victims of sexual violence.

"If the Finance Minister does not know how to utilise the fund, then the women's organisations are willing to advise the government on effective planning and execution. The non-utilisation of this fund is nothing but an insult to the entire women of India," she said.

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Image: A protestor shouts slogans during a candle light vigil to mark the first anniversary of the Delhi gang rape
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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