Rape Victim Is Cremated After Return to India

The body of a young rape victim was flown in to New Delhi from Singapore early Sunday and was cremated within two hours at a funeral ceremony under a thick winter morning fog. The ceremony was attended by the woman's family and some 200 neighbors, as well as India's top leaders.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went to the airport to receive the body and console the woman's parents. The funeral ceremony was marked by an uneasy hush, one official said, and was very different from the angry uproar and street protests that have galvanized the nation over the past two weeks.

The funeral was not telecast by India's television news channels, which have come under criticism from officials here for sensationalizing the protests.

On Saturday, thousands of Indians poured into the streets of cities across the country to mourn the death of the woman, who was gang-raped nearly two weeks ago in an incident that triggered a national conversation about violence against women.

Police announced that the six men arrested in connection with the attack were charged with murder after the woman, who suffered a brain injury and other internal damage, died at a hospital in Singapore.

The government, responding to rising anger, promised to put the trial on a fast track.

"We have already seen the emotions and energies this incident has generated," Singh said in a statement Saturday. "These are perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change."

To prevent a repeat of last week's massive protests, many streets in the capital were blocked by police and barricades and 10 Metro stations were shut down Saturday.

The protesters, many of whom wore black tape across their mouths and held candles, were not allowed to march on the central boulevard, called India Gate, as they did last week. Police boxed them into a tiny street in the heart of the city where they sat on the ground chanting slogans and singing songs.

In other parts of the city, mourners also marched silently along sidewalks and in neighborhood parks. As night fell, many gathered in cities nationwide, holding candles in tribute to the victim.

"Every Indian girl has died with her today because we all felt so connected emotionally with her," Anubhuti Shukla, a 23-year-old communications intern, said as she texted her friends information about the candlelight vigil in New Delhi. "If we forget the issues after her death, it would be the real shame. She died, but she woke us up."

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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Rama Lakshmi
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