Celebrations across the country to welcome New Year were toned down as India continued to mourn and protest against violence on women, a day after Delhi gangrape victim was cremated under heavy security on Sunday.
Many hotels and organisations cancelled New Year’s eve celebrations in New Delhi, Mumbai and other several cities as they felt the tragic death of 23-year-old woman had left people sad.
The usual buzz surrounding New Year was missing in Delhi today after the city witnessed the gruesome gangrape of a 23-year-old girl, who died two days ago, with lesser turnouts in hotspots like India Gate and Connaught Place.
Several clubs, including the Press Club of India and Delhi Gymkhana, and five-star hotels cancelled their New Year revelries following the death of the girl.
Protests were held at Jantar Mantar where a makeshift memorial was also built.
The mood at Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi, was a modest affair unlike other years when there is a lot of pomp and celebrations.
It was a no-vehicle zone this evening at CP for controlling the crowd. Police personnel were in huge numbers there, keeping a close watch on the revellers.
During the day, a large number of students took out a march in Connaught Place protesting against the gangrape of the young girl. The Central Park in the CP was closed.
Though not like last year, people thronged popular markets and fun spots on New Year eve today in the capital where police kept a tight vigil to ensure that the festivities went ahead without any untoward incident.
City police has made elaborate security and traffic arrangements to ensure that the celebrations go off peacefully.
“It may be a new year for entire world but for Delhiites it is a sad day. If a person is not safe in Bus then were in Delhi is he or she safe. Earlier being a resident of Delhi we were afraid of terrorist attacks now we are afraid of rapists too,” Karan Sharma said.
Expressing deep concern over thedeath of the Delhi gang-rape victim, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik today decided not to take part in any New Year celebrations
“The inhuman incident at Delhi has pained the entire country. Assault on women has severely hurt sentiments of the people. Therefore, Patnaik will not celebrate the New Year’s Day,” a spokesman of the chief minister’s office (CMO) said.
UNI reported, the new year function to be held at the Madhya Pradesh Raj Bhavan on January 1 was cancelled. Governor Ram Naresh Yadav took the decision in the context of the Delhi gangrape, an official statement said.
There is a tradition to organise a new year function at the Bhavan every year during which the Governor interacts with distinguished citizens and others and exchanges new year greetings.
Students and women on Monday continued their protests in New Delhi against violence on women, a day after the city’s gangrape victim was cremated under heavy security.
A large number of people, but mainly the young, gathered near the Jantar Mantar observatory in the heart of Delhi, pressing the government to enact strict legislation against rape and other crimes.
At least two people are on hunger strike at the spot.
“I’m on hunger strike for the past three days. I will continue my fast until fast-track courts come up to hear cases of sexual harassment,” said Babusingh Ram, one of them.
Two protesters, who have been on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar demanding for death penalty for the Delhi gangrape accused, have started developing health complications.
The doctor who checked on them said that one of them had a normal blood pressure, but a high pulse rate.
He said, “The other protester, who has been fasting for the past eight days, have started developing oral ulcers. I have requested him to eat, but he persists on continuing his strike.”
Delhi Police have announced a ban on motor traffic in and around Connaught Place from 7pm on Monday on the occasion of New Year’s Eve.
Three Delhi Metro Stations – Rajiv Chowk, Barakhamba Road and Patel Chowk – will close at 7.30pm on Monday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) organised a condolence meeting at Jantar Mantar to pay tribute to the victim, who succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore hospital on Saturday.
Senior BJP leaders including LK Advani, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj will also attend the ceremony.
The girl died after battling for life for 13 days after being brutally gangraped by six men in a moving bus.
Following a day of protests on Sunday across India over the brutal rape and killing, several cities held silent candle light vigils to remember the young woman.
The gang rape provoked protests and rare nationwide debate about violence against women in India.
In New Delhi, where the attack took place, a petition calling for the death penalty for rape gathered 100,000 signatures.
“In this petition we have put demands addressed to the government and the chairperson of National Women’s Commission that the penalty for rape should only be the death sentence and nothing else,” said Bharvik Aggarwal, chair of the Indraprastha Sanjivini Trust.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, police figures show. Reported rape cases rose by nearly 17% between 2007 and 2011, according to government data.
“Being a woman, I feel it is not just about these six people who have been arrested. It is about everything that goes wrong against women. It is about child abuse, it is about domestic violence, it is about rape, it is about molestation, even teasing. And a very simple thing that we can do, both men and women, is that we need to raise our voices,” said Anjali, a protester in Bangalore.
“If we see anything wrong happening, we need to raise our voice. If it is happening with us, we need to raise our voice. If it is in our surroundings that something wrong is happening, we need to raise our voice,” she added.
“Actually we are not just protesting against the rape case that took place in Delhi. Many more rape cases are occurring daily all over the country. We have to stop this. So some changes must be made in the judiciary system and the administrative setup must be changed or strengthened,” said Atul Pathak, who attended a candlelight vigil in Guwahati, Assam.
Six suspects were charged with murder after her death and face the death penalty if convicted.
Police have slapped murder charges, which has death penalty in rarest of rare cases, against the six accused and will file the chargesheet against them on January 3.