Hundreds mourn as India awaits trial
DELHI: The ashes of the 23-year-old victim of the gang rape in Delhi that provoked weeks of protests in India have been scattered in the Ganges. The student, who died last weekend of injuries sustained in the assault, was cremated on Sunday. Her identity has still not been made public.
Six men, including one who claims to be a juvenile aged 17, have been detained and are accused of her rape and murder. Police have drawn up a 1000-page charge sheet which they will present in court on Thursday.
Hundreds of people joined the family by the Ganges in Bharauli, 950 kilometres east of Delhi. The cortege took three hours to cover the eight kilometres to the river from the family's ancestral home because of the crowds, the Times of India reported. India's often ruthless and sensationalist media had agreed to stay away.
Greater fear ... women wear black bands across their faces as they join a gathering mourning the death of the 23-year-old gang rape victim. Photo: AP
The suspects, other than the juvenile, could face the death penalty if convicted. On Tuesday the Home Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, said the case against them appeared very strong.
''We have a solid case with very good evidence … a magistrate has recorded the victim's dying declaration and we have a prime witness, the girl's friend, who has identified the rapists,'' Mr Shinde told The Economic Times.
The victim's boyfriend is likely to give crucial evidence during what is expected to be a fast-tracked trial.
Delhi police say hundreds of women have applied for gun licences since the murder.
''Lots of women have been contacting us asking for information about how to obtain licences. Any woman has a threat against her. It's not surprising. There are fearless predators out there,'' said Abhijeet Singh, of the campaign group Guns For India.
As the ramifications of the crime continued to reverberate throughout India a chart-topping rapper known for his sexually explicit lyrics became embroiled in the growing campaign against sexism and misogyny.
Yo Yo Honey Singh's New Year's Eve concert in Delhi was cancelled after an online campaign which highlighted lyrics allegedly inciting abuse of women.
His 2007 track Prostitute refers to him having violent sex with a woman after he forces her to ''dance naked'' and includes the line: ''You will scream and run but where can you go … I will take your life.''
There are also fears the attack will lead to further restrictions on women.
Elders in Matapa, in the poor state of Bihar, have banned the use of mobile phones for teenage girls and warned them against wearing ''sexy'' clothes. They claim the move will check rape cases and restore ''social order''.
One MP in the north-western state of Rajasthan called for a ban on skirts for schoolgirls to keep them away from ''men's lustful gazes''.
The order in Matapa was issued after a formal meeting with villagers, council officials and teachers on Sunday. ''Almost every villager pressed us to ban the mobile phones use by the schoolgirls saying they are proving quite dangerous for the society and corrupting traditional values,'' the local village council head, Sushma Singh, said on Tuesday.
Protesters were angered by the news. ''Our sister will have died in vain if all that is happening after is our fear is greater and ladies are more unfree,'' said Deepti Anand, a 21-year-old student in Delhi.
Guardian News & Media, Agence France-Presse