New India rape protests fizzle, victim airlifted to Singapore

Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:49am EST
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By Satarupa Bhattacharjya

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Police thwarted an attempt by activists on Thursday to rekindle mass protests in New Delhi over the gang rape and ferocious beating of a young woman, after the victim was airlifted to Singapore for specialist hospital care to save her life.

Demonstrations erupted in New Delhi after the December 16 attack, culminating last weekend in pitched battles between police and protesters around the city's India Gate war memorial.

However, activists who gathered on Thursday for a fresh march on India Gate were stopped by police in riot gear armed with tear gas and water cannons to hold them back.

"We will win back our freedom!" the protesters, mostly university students, shouted as they pushed against barricades on a road leading to the city's landmark monument. Unable to make further headway, the crowd dispersed as night fell.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex attacks among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to the National Crimes Records Bureau.

Most rapes and other sex crimes go unreported and offenders are rarely punished, but the brutality of the assault on the medical student in New Delhi triggered public outrage, demands for both better policing and harsher punishment for rapists.

The 23-year-old victim, who was thrown out of a moving bus after being attacked by six men, was flown to Singapore on Wednesday night for treatment at the city-state's Mount Elizabeth Hospital, after more than a week of intensive care in a government hospital in New Delhi.

Dr. Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of the Singapore hospital, said on Thursday evening that the woman was in "an extremely critical condition".   Continued...

A demonstrator shouts slogans during a protest rally in New Delhi December 27, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood