New Delhi: The government promised swift justice and strictest possible punishment in the brutal gangrape and murder case of a 23-year-old paramedical student who breathed her last in a Singapore hospital early on Saturday after battling for life for over 12 days. The death of the braveheart sparked mourning across the nation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and President Pranab Mukherjee calling for speedy trial and appealing to the anti-rape protesters to maintain calm and peace even as Delhi Police turned the national capital into a fortress.
The body of the 23-year-old braveheart, who died at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore at 2.15 am (IST) with her family by her side, is expected to be flown back to India later on Saturday by a special Indian aircraft that has already reached Singapore. Meanwhile, the police said that murder charges would be framed against all six accused even as the sixth accused in the case has now been sent to 12-day judicial custody.
While the nation mourned the sad demise of the Delhi braveheart and people gathered at several places across the country for peaceful protests, sensitive areas of the national capital like India Gate, Rajpath etc were locked down with the government telling protesters not to break law. Those in power assured that the culprits would be brought to justice at the earliest. It was also assured by the police that the chargesheet would be filed by January 3, 2013.
Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dharmendra Kumar said, "The autopsy is being conducted by a Singaporean team. The report will be made available at the earliest and we hope to file the chargesheet by January 3, 2013. Section 302 which is the penal code for murder has been added...a prosecutor of eminence has been appointed to fast track the case on a day-to-day basis."
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi also said that "fit and strong" punishment would be given to the accused as she pledged that the braveheart would get justice. Sonia said, "I want to assure that the voice of all those who have protested has been heard. I appeal everyone to maintain peace and calm...as a mother I understand the sentiments of all."
President Pranab Mukherjee also condoled the demise while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed the hope that the entire political class and civil society would set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to make India a demonstrably safer place to live in. President Pranab Mukherjee said the girl "is a true hero and symbolises the Indian youth and women". He too assured that her death will not be in vain.
"I am deeply distressed by the unfortunate demise of the 23-year-old girl who passed away early this morning in Singapore. She was a brave and courageous girl who fought till the very last minute for her dignity and her life. She is a true hero and symbolises the best in Indian youth and women," said Pranab in a message.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar also said termed that death as a sacrifice, adding that it could not be allowed to go in vain. "People should stand together so that her sacrifice must not go in vain. This is very important that people should change their mindset to respect the woman," said Meira Kumar.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi also expressed his grief saying, "As citizens, we must resolve to respect the dignity of women and follow the laws of the land. I join my mother and sister in offering deep felt condolences to the young girl's family, thoughts and prayers are with the family."
Amidst the mourning and the call for justice, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was heckled as she visited the protest site at Jantar Mantar on Saturday afternoon. Dikshit lighted a candle in solidarity at the site before leaving.
The girl had been struggling against odds and fighting for her survival for the past 12 days. The odds were stacked against her as she had suffered significant brain injury, intestinal damage, cardiac arrests and multiple organ failure. Her small intestine had to be removed by the doctors at Safdarjung Hospital where she was under treatment for 10 days before she was airlifted to Singapore, reportedly for better medical care.
On Friday, the Mount Elizabeth Hospital reported that the girl had suffered significant brain injury and that it could take months, not weeks, for her to fully recover. The hospital, in a statement, had said that girl was in an extremely critical condition and on full ventilator support, adding that she was unfit for surgery.