As protests over the gang-rape incident escalated, Congress on Sunday appealed for calm with Rahul Gandhi emphasising that decisions cannot be driven by emotions and that they should be taken in a "rational" manner.
Party president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul had an over 90 minute-long meeting with a group of protesters at her 10 Janpath residence during which Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh and Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhury were also present.
"A group of seven persons placed their demands, we also noted down their suggestions and also briefed them about the steps the government has taken so far. We had told them that there is a need to maintain calm and the government is committed to take all steps," Singh said.
Sources said during the meeting Rahul told the group of youths that while he understands and respect their emotions and acknowledged that the issue is very emotive, he also stressed that "decision making should happen in a rational manner. Decisions taken cannot be driven merely by emotions".
Rahul, an AICC General Secretary, also told the youths to come out with rational suggestions to ensure that such incidents are prevented and perpetrators of such crime are given punishment in a short period of time.
Sonia is learnt to have expressed agreement with the contentions of the protesters that there is a need to do much more to instill a sense of security among women and the incident has indeed created a fear among them.
She is also learnt to have assured the youths that all steps will be taken to fast-track the case so that the perpetrators get punishment.
Sonia also nodded in affirmative when the youths told them that there is an urgent need to sensitise the police forces.
As the youths sought stricter laws to deal with cases of rape and other crimes against women, Rahul told them that while there were no two views about it, time is needed to amend laws.
A bigger group of protesters had gathered outside 10 Janpath yesterday mid-night. The Congress president had come out of her residence to meet the protesters.
She sat among the protesters on the ground and talked to them for close to 20 minutes. She had told them that she would be willing to meet their delegation in the morning.
Today's meeting came in this context.
Chaudhury said she is confident that a "fruitful beginning" is going to happen after this meeting. She said that an action plan to prevent recurrence of such incident has been discussed.
"We have requested for peace and calm," Chaudhury said, adding "it is very very heartening to see that young people are coming forward," she said.
Singh said the representatives of protesters gave 12-13 suggestions on fighting crime against women.
"During the meeting, they were assured that the case will be heard in fast-track courts. They specifically said that they want accused to prove their innocence rather victim proving (it)," he said, but refused to give a time-line for punishing the criminals.
"We have appealed to the protesters. The demands are being met. The government has heard them loud and clear. We are acting on their demands," the Minister said.
Asked about clamping of prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in New Delhi, Singh defended the move, saying, "Some unfortunate things happened yesterday. Many youths got injured. We don't want this to happen. To save youths from this, we decided to take this step," he said.