On the night of 16th December in Delhi, a 23 year old para-medical student was gang raped in a moving bus. People of Delhi have being pouring out onto the streets to express their anger.
Not just in Delhi, but many cities and towns in the country, people have come out in big demonstrations and marches to demand that violence against women must be halted and punish those guilty of such crimes.
In various streets and residential colonies in Delhi, people have taken out candlelight marches in the nights and demanded punishment to the guilty. In this period many protest meetings have taken place. People have been demonstrating and shouting slogans denouncing the government for failing to ensure safety of women.
Lakhs of youth have energetically taken part in this movement to oppose all type of violence against women.
Many women working in various professions have demanded that violence against them must be stopped. Professional men have joined the women in support of this just demand. They are also demanding violence against women must be ended and the guilty be given hard and exemplary punishment.
In spite of the assurances of fast track courts and maximum punishment, given by the Home minister Shinde, the demonstrators have no faith in the government. They knew that those sitting in power are responsible for the prevailing conditions. The two biggest parties, Congress Party and the BJP, themselves were guilty of heinous crimes against women. The leaders of these parties have been responsible for abduction and rape of women. It was the leaders of these parties who led the goondas raping and oppressing the people in the genocide of Sikhs in 1984 and of Muslims in 1993 and 2002.
People know that the guilty sitting in positions of power give the armed forces in Kashmir, the Northeast, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and other states to rape and carry out excesses against women. Without the collusion and support of the ministers, administration, judiciary and armed forces, such atrocities cannot continue.
The ruling party used traditional methods to attack the growing demonstrations which themselves reflected the lack of faith people had in the government assurances. The peaceful protests at the India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan were disrupted using anti-social elements. The provocation carried out by these elements, gave the police the pretext to attach the demonstrators in the name of “peace and security.” Along with using the water cannons and tear gas shells, the police resorted to laathi charge.
Section 144 was imposed in the whole of Delhi. In the main means of transport, the Delhi Metro, 9 stations were closed down. Armed forces and police were stationed for several kilometers around the India Gate-Rashtrapati Bhavan area. In spite of imposing this emergency type of situation, the government could not quell the spirit of the protestors or their demands for justice.
When the correspondents of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar reached Jantar Mantar on 25th December, the students and youth were in high spirits even after being out on the streets for several days. The area resounded with slogans like, "Down with violence against women", "An attack on one is an attack on all", "Stop the criminalisation of politics"! People who were participating in the protests were questioning the government for not being able to guarantee the security and dignity for women. They were demanding that the Ministers should be stripped of their security and the security of women should be ensured.
A member of the Purogami Mahila Sangathan told the correspondent of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar that the criminalisation of politics was the main reason for violence against women.
She said that the Supreme Court decision came 14 years after the rape and murder of the Delhi University student Priyadarshini Mattoo and the punishment for the guilty Santosh Kumar Singh was only life imprisonment because he was the son of a senior IPS officer. In the Jessica Lal affair, after 11 years, the son of the Congress leader Vinod Sharma, Manu Sharma was only awarded life imprisonment. In July 1995, the Yuva Congress leader Sushil Sharma had killed his wife Naina Sahani and burnt her in a tandoor. The involvement of ex UP Minister Amarmani Tripathi in the murder of Madhumita Shukla, the Bhanwari Devi case in Rajasthan, the ex Haryana Deputy Chief Minister, Chandramohan’s affair, marriage, divorce and subsequent murder of Fiza, the ex Haryana Minister of State for Home, Gopal Goyal Kanda’s involvement in the suicide case of Geetika Sharma - these are but a few of the numerous cases of crimes against women in which persons connected with political power were directly involved.
She pointed out that in Manipur, Manorama Devi was raped by the Assam Rifles jawans and subsequently killed. There are numerous such cases in Kashmir also, where there has been no justice to the victims and their families. Our ruling parties, no doubt, talk of empowerment of women, but in fact they pay little heed to the problems of women and their right to a dignified and secure life. There are numerous examples in which the money and political power protects those who commit crimes against women. The judicial system and the long process of law oppress the victims for years.
One student in the demonstration said the continuation of old barbaric relations and traditions help the capitalist system to survive. This system only protects the interest of a handful of rich in maximizing their profits. This system only considers women as something that can be easily exploited.
One member of Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha said that it is essential to prosecute and punish those responsible for violence against women and also those responsible for exploitation and oppression based on gender, religion, caste or sexual preference. They should be given exemplary punishment no matter what high positions they may be occupying.
The mass protests have been continuing. On 27th December, there was a protest march from the Nizamuddin Dome to the Golf Club square in which women, students and people’s organisations condemned the oppressive attitude of the government. On 29th December, after the death of the rape victim, large number of people paid homage the victim at Jantan Mantar.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar salutes the people who have come out on the streets to protest violence against women.