A muted New Year celebration was witnessed throughout the country as thousands of people across India took out silent candle light vigils with a clear message that the death of the Delhi gang-rape victim will not go in vain and the concerned authorities should come up with stringent laws to ensure that women are able to move around freely.
Protesters gathered at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi demanding that those accused of the heinous crime must be given the harshest punishment. They also asked the Manmohan Singh-led UPA II government to get tougher on crimes against women.
Many of the participants also endorsed their views in a signature campaign on a petition to demand capital punishment for the rapists.
"In this petition, we have demands addressed to the government and the Chairperson of National Women's Commission that the penalty for rape should only be death sentence and nothing else. This is our campaign," said Bhavik Aggarwal, convenor of Indraprastha Sanjivini Trust.
"And we have gathered 1,00,000 signatures and we shall present this petition on behalf of our Indraprastha Sanjivini Trust to the Chairperson of Women's Commission Mamata Sharma and state that about 1,00,000 people have demanded death sentence for rape," added Aggarwal
Public ire and sympathy for the Delhi gang-rape victim were also witnessed at Bangalore where people from all walks of life and of all age groups gathered for a candle light vigil.
They viewed their efforts as one of the means to eradicate the prevailing social evils.
"Being a woman, I feel it is not just about these six people who have been arrested (for the gang-rape crime in New Delhi). It is about everything that goes wrong against women. It is about child abuse, it is about domestic violence, it is about rape, it is about molestation, eve teasing. And a very simple thing that we can do, both men and women, is that we need to raise our voices," said Anjali, a participant in candle light vigil in Bangalore.
"We see anything wrong happening, we need to raise our voice. If it is happening with us, we need to raise our voice. If it is in our surroundings that something wrong is happening, we need to raise our voice," she added.
Candle light vigils were also taken out in Kolkata where the women participants gathered outside the West Bengal State Women Commission's office.
Protima Poddar, one of the participants, said that they were not against men in general, but against the notions of male chauvinism prevalent in Indian society.
"We urge before the male community as well of the society that they also be part of our struggle. And we are not against the males of the society. Because we are the persons who give birth to male persons. But we are against this patriarchal society and this chauvinism," she said.
The protesters in Guwahati sought revamping of the existing judicial system.
"Actually, we are not just protesting for the rape case that took place in Delhi. Many more rape cases are coming out daily from all over the country. We have to stop this. So some changes must be brought forth in the judiciary system and the administrative set up must be changed or strengthened," said Atul Pathak, a participant in the candle light vigil at Guwahati.
The girl was gang-raped and brutally assaulted allegedly by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16 night.
Delhi Police has invoked murder charges against the six men allegedly involved in the gang-rape of the girl in a moving bus after she died in a Singapore hospital and decided to file the charge sheet in court on January 3.