This morning, Delhi woke up to the news that the 23 year old Paramedic that the city had taken to its heart had breathed her last at around two in the morning at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. From early morning, sms messages, phone calls and facebook and twitter posts and updates, informed the city about a condolence meeting scheduled for 11 am in the morning at Jantar Mantar. I was there by 11, and realized that a lot of people were having problems getting there because a shameless administration had decided to shut down entry and exits on to reportedly ten stations of the Delhi Metro. Buses were also being diverted. Despite this, a sizable crowd had gathered by around noon. Two minutes silence was observed. Sucheta Dey (AISA, JNU) and Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA) spoke briefly.
Both emphasized the need for a peaceful, dignified gathering to pay respects to the brave fighting spirit of the deceased woman. Kavita Krishnan spoke about the need to combat patriarchy everywhere, in the family, at home, in the workplace, in colleges, schools and universitities. And called for an to end the culture of impunity that lets men think that they can get away with rape and sexual violence.
Four of five young women who were in the gathering stood up and sand ‘Vaishnava Jana Ko’, spontaneously. There were a few stray slogans and signs calling for capital punishment.
But this was not the overwhelming sentiment that governed the occasion. By the time I left. More people were gathering. There were reports of a very well attended march t
aken out by JNU students to Munirka Police Station. We heard that marches were also planned by women’s groups from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar.
Reports indicate that the protest is continuing. Many more people have joined. As of now, the situation is peaceful. Delhi remembers the young woman who had come to mean so much for much for so many, with grace and dignity. The Government of India is continuing to refuse permission to let people gather peacefully at India Gate, despite an appeal even from the chief minister of Delhi. Delhi is not going to forget this easily. The city is transformed by grief and solidarity.