All is Calm, All are Not too Bright

As the nation erupted in fury and people took to the streets to vent their anger, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at last addressed the nation Monday, over seven days after the brutal gangrape of a medical student on a bus in New Delhi.

In a one-minute speech, Dr Singh did not give specifics on what the government would do or how it might change rape laws, but appealed for calm. And while he acknowledged the people’s anger was justifiable, he said nothing will be achieved by violence.
After Sunday’s violence, the government on Monday turned the heart of the nation’s capital into a fortress. In a desperate bid to prevent demonstrations it shut nine Metro stations in Delhi’s main office/business district, putting hundreds of thousands of commuters to hardship, and blocked all roads leading to India Gate and Raisina Hill. Despite that, hundreds of young people gathered at Jantar Mantar, near Connaught Place, to continue their protests for the seventh day. Unlike Sunday, though, they sat quietly, peacefully and raised voices and banners against the government’s “apathy”.
Under fire, the government (which earlier praised the police’s “outstanding performance”) began a crackdown at senior levels on Monday. It suspended two assistant commissioners and sought explanations from two deputy commissioners on why action should not be taken against them “for dereliction of duty”. Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit and his mother, Delhi chief minister Sheila Diskhit, have already sought the removal of city police commissioner Neeraj Kumar. Eight policemen have been suspended.
The condition of the 23-year-old gangrape victim, meanwhile, deteriorated further on Monday.
Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit met the Prime Minister on Monday and urged the setting up of five special fast-track courts at the earliest.
While the government struggled to deal with rising public anger, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday equated the protesters, including school and college students, with Maoists.
Delhi’s lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna, who was on vacation abroad for the past seven days while the city saw unprecedented protests, returned home early on Monday morning.

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