Millennium Post

Justice seekers flock to Jantar Mantar

Justice seekers flock to Jantar Mantar
Jagjeet Kaur, a 30-year-old rape victim from Punjab, was frustrated after running from pillar to post for two years seeking justice. Finally, she landed in Delhi, beginning her hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, the tourist landmark in the centre of Delhi that has been the month-long epicenter of the protests against the Delhi gangrape that she says inspired her to fight on.

‘I saw on TV how hundreds of people were gathering here demanding justice for the rape victim. Some of them were on hunger strike too. The determination of the protesters inspired me to come here,’ Jagjeet Kaur, who began her hunger strike Monday, said.

‘This is the appropriate place for me to raise my voice against rape,’ added Jagjeet Kaur who sat on a mattress covered in blankets in the middle of the road next to a makeshift memorial consisting of flowers, candles and placards erected for the 23-year-old woman who was brutally raped by six males on a moving bus on 16 December.

According to Jagjeet Kaur, who works for an NGO in Ludhiana, she was raped by a senior police officer in 2010.

Like her, there were many victims as well as their relatives who came from far and wide to seek justice and they all thronged to Jantar Mantar, an 18th century observatory that abuts Connaught Place, the business and shopping hub of New Delhi. Since the 16 December incident, hundreds and, on occasions, thousands of people,  came to Jantar Mantar.

All of them are united in their fight to get justice for women. Most of them want death for the six males who raped and then threw the physiotherapist trainee out of a moving bus on a cold December night along with her friend, bleeding and without clothes. The woman died of her injuries 18 days later in a Singapore hospital.

A month after the incident that shook the collective conscience of a nation, the protest site continues to see gatherings of people who have come together with their demand for safety of women. Surprisingly, it is for the first time that an agitation without any leadership has sustained itself for so long at the venue - or, for that matter, at any venue in the country.

Prior to this, activist Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation had managed to attract crowds for several days.

‘No political party has paid us to come here; neither are we here because a civil activist made an emotional appeal. It is our anger and frustration with the system and the hope to see a safer tomorrow for our sisters and daughters that we are here,’ Saleem Parvez, 55, who has often been coming to Jantar Mantar, said.

Crowds consisting mainly of students and social workers usually gather at the site every morning with placards and banners and sit till dusk, braving the winter chill. The numbers swell on weekends. Vowing to ‘fight till the end,’ many protesters claimed that they would agitate at the site till their demands are met.


Many more policemen but far fewer women. That’s Delhi by night where insecurity has tightened its grip in the month since the gang-rape of a 23-year-old on her way back home from a movie and where women are cutting back on work and leisure because they are scared of travelling by public transport.

Never known to be the safest for women, India’s national capital has become even more perilous since the 16 December incident, say women, who feel a heightened sense of vulnerability.

A long night drive along some of the city’s roads showed up many more policemen but hardly any women. Travelling by motorcycle and by DTC buses along some of south and west Delhi’s roads, including busy areas like Malviya Nagar and Vasant Vihar, no women  were seen standing at bus stands or travelling by buses. Around 10.30 pm, a few women were buying a few essentials from markets. The streets and bus stops were well lit but that did little to alleviate the sense of insecurity.

All admitted they were scared of taking public transport at night - buses or auto-rickshaws - and had changed their work timings in order to return home by 9 pm.

But police were aplenty on the roads, manning barricades at every five kilometers, while others whizzed by on motorcycles or in Police Control Room vans. ‘Despite the increased police presence at night, after the gangrape incident, I now end my duty hours by 8.30 pm. Earlier, it used to end at 10.30 pm.,’ Neena Sahani, a 30-year-old company secretary, said, near the Malviya Nagar Metro station.

Asked why there were no women to be seen on buses, Sahani said most women take DTC buses at night only to travel short distances, not more than five kilometres. ‘The young woman would not have been gang-raped if DTC ran more buses at night on this route. She waited for over 30 minutes for a DTC bus, and when none came by, she and her friend were forced to travel by private bus with no passengers,’ Sahani added.

It was about 9.15 pm when the 23-year-old boarded a private bus along with her male friend after failing to get a DTC bus. She was gang-raped by five men and a juvenile and tortured. She died on 29 December in a Singapore hospital where she was taken for specialised treatment.
Next Story
Share it