India Shuts Roads, Metro to Clamp Down on Rape Protests

Posted December 24th, 2012 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Indian officials closed roads and metro stations Monday in central New Delhi, in an effort to end massive demonstrations over last week's brutal gang rape and beating of a 23-year-old student.

Police barricaded roads leading to India Gate, an imposing Arc de Triomphe-style war memorial in the center of the Indian capital, which has become a hub for the protests.

The student was attacked after she and a male friend were given a ride on a chartered bus in New Delhi on December 16. Officials say a group of men raped and beat her with an iron rod, then threw the woman off the bus. She remains hospitalized in critical condition on respiratory support.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday called for calm and vowed to protect women.

In a televised address more than a week after the rape, Mr. Singh assured the nation that justice would be “delivered in this case” and urged Indians to maintain peace and calm.

He noted that “anger at this crime is justified but violence will serve no purpose.”

Protests linked to the attack have taken place across the country for several days. Many protesters are demanding the death penalty for the six suspects now in detention.

The suspects are accused of rape and attempted murder, with police seeking life imprisonment for the perpetrators.

Police in the capital Sunday used tear gas and water cannons on the demonstrators.

More than 600 cases of rape have been reported in New Delhi so far this year, one of the highest rates in the country.

Last week, Indian Home Secretary R.K. Singh announced a series of measures to prevent such violence. He said bus drivers' licenses will be thoroughly checked, tinted or otherwise covered bus windows will be banned, and plainclothes police officers will be deployed on buses. Authorities will also crack down on drunk driving and those who drink and loiter in New Delhi.