Kolkata grieves, expresses anger at Delhi gang-rape victim's death

Kolkata, Dec 29 (IANS) Kolkata was united in rage and grief Saturday at the tragic death of the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim, as citizens took out protest walks, candlelight vigils and silent marches Saturday.

Hundreds walked from the busy intersection of College Square to the city's hub Esplanade carrying slogans and placards saying "We mourn her death" and "We will fight patriarchy".

Cutting across gender and social barriers, the march witnessed the participation of volunteers and activists from several human rights groups and university students, who raised their voices against atrocities against women.

"What happened to the 23-year-old in Delhi was shocking. According to statistics, Kolkata has one of the highest incidences of rape cases. We are here to raise our voices against all forms of atrocities towards women," a representative of the human rights group, Association For Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), told IANS.

Renting the air with slogans of "Inquilaab Zindabaad" and "We want justice in the Park Street rape case", the protestors - ranging in age from twenties to fifties - also aimed to bring to the fore the state government's inaction in the sensational Park Street rape case.

Various other organisations and political parties brought out silent marches and kept candle light vigils across the city.

The Delhi gang-rape victim is an inspiration for all women, said the young woman who was sexually assaulted in Park Street.

Calling it as a "very sad day", the mother of two said the Delhi girl's fight to survive would always remain etched in her heart.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for amending criminal laws to ensure stringent punishment for rape and promised to cooperate if the central government called a special session of parliament on the issue.

Magsaysay award winning writer Mahasweta Devi called it a day of national mourning and a personal loss for the entire session.

"The whole country should hang its head in shame. It is a day of disgrace for all those who have been trying to gain political mileage by making rash and insensitive comments about rape," she said.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee called the society to introspect.

"A young life was lost to the brutality of a few. It is time we introspect why such a heinous crime has been happening. There is need to check this menace," he said.

Filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta blasted politicians for making crass comments about crimes against women.

"Our political leaders keep killing them repeatedly with their cheap and insensitive comments. These people do not have the right to be our elected representatives."

Bengali actress Payel Sarkar demanded death penalty for the offenders, but said no punishment was enough.

"It is high time the society learnt to respect women and womanhood. It is time the government sent a strong message by hanging the culprits," Sarkar told IANS.

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