AP Photo/ Dar Yasin
Gangrape Incident: Sheila Dikshit Flags Off Silent March
Days after she was forced to beat a hasty retreat from Jantar Mantar here, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today participated in a silent march demanding justice for the 23-year-old girl who died after being brutally
gangraped, an incident that sparked a nationwide outrage.
Hundreds of women, holding placards seeking adequate safety for them and to end to sexual violence, marched through a 3 km-long stretch from Bal Bhavan in central Delhi to Rajghat --the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Chief Minister, who flagged off the 'Mahila Suraksha Samman March', walked about 500 metres upto ITO before boarding a car to reach
Rajghat. All her Cabinet colleagues and a number of MLAs participated in the march organised by Delhi Commission for Women.
At Rajghat, some of the favourite bhajans of Mahatma Gandhi including "Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye Jay" were played and a two-minute silence was observed in memory of the girl. Several people including Dikshit offered floral tributes at Gandhi's memorial.
"When we walk down the road at night, we want to feel that we are safe. We don't want to live under the fear of being raped or molested," said Ahana Singh, one of the protestors who joined the march.
"It is not that only because of this incident that we have hit the road. For last few years, Delhi is the most unsafe city for women in India. This should change," said Anushka Singh.
Dikshit was heckled and booed on Saturday at Jantar Mantar when she went there to mourn the death of the girl who brutally raped and assaulted here on December 16. The Chief Minister had to beat a hasty retreat from the protest venue.
A press release issued by the Chief Minister's office claimed that more than ten thousand women participated in the march which included representatives of various NGOs, university students and aged women.
The march was dedicated to women's solidarity and some of the placards read "we seek
honour, prestige, equality, justice, freedom and safety & security."
At Rajghat, the women vowed to make the society free of such heinous crimes and demanded amendment of existing laws to provide for the strictest punishment to those involved in assault on women.
"We took a pledge to make a better society where women can live with dignity," said a woman who participated in the march.
At Jantar Mantar, a modest crowd continued their protest demanding stringent punishment for those involved in the December 16 incident in which the girl was raped allegedly by six men and brutally assaulted.
Two men continued their fast at Jantar Mantar in protest against the incident and demanded death sentence for the accused.
A large number of police personnel were deployed at the protest site.
Meanwhile senior BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra accused Dikshit of "trivialising" the serious issue of women safety by taking out the peace march.
"I would like to know against whom this march was organised. Was it against the Prime Minister, the Home Minister or Sonia Gandhi or her own government"? he said.
The Leader of Opposition said Dikshit has been Chief Minister for last 14 years and during her rule "thousands of rape cases took place" in the city but she "never showed sincerity in making the city safe for women".
"During discussions on law and order situation in the Assembly, she blamed outsiders for increasing crime in Delhi and defended the Delhi Police...Instead of peace march, the Chief Minister should resign owning moral responsibility for her government's failure to prevent heinous crimes in the city," he said.
Malhotra said that by indulging in "theatrics", the Chief Minister will not be able to "cover up" her failures.
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