Imagine an India for women: 600 guitarists pay tribute to New Delhi December 16, 2012 gang rape victim

A group of over 600 guitarists have paid a musical tribute to the Delhi gang raped victim, playing "Imagine" by John Lennon in a bid to spread "hope, peace and promise" in a country still coming to terms with the violence.

The group assembled at a music festival in the eastern hilltown of Darjeeling on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the brutal rape and murder of a student on a moving bus in New Delhi brought an outpouring of national anger.

Imagine an India for women: 600 guitarists pay tribute to New Delhi December 16, 2012 gang rape victim

"We chose this song because it talks about hope, peace and promise," said Sonam Bhutia, tourism secretary of Darjeeling and one of the festival organisers.

"The song is so inspiring. It talks about a universe without any boundaries," Bhutia said of the 1971 Lennon track.

"The tribute was a gesture on our part to show that we are with the victim's family in their hour of unimaginable sorrow."

The savage attack on the woman has triggered countrywide protests with calls for better safety and an overhaul of laws governing crimes against women.



New Delhi gang-rape suspects in court amid chaotic scenes

The Telegraph - January 03, 2013

Five men charged with the gang-rape and murder of a student in New Delhi have appeared in court for the first time amid calls for them to be hanged.

The five, who could face the death penalty if convicted, are charged with kidnap, robbery and conspiracy over the attack on December 16 that sparked mass protests in India and soul-searching about levels of violence against women.

The magistrate hearing the case ordered that their first appearance in court take place behind closed doors.

"The court has become jam-packed," magistrate Namrita Aggarwal told the court amid noisy protests from lawyers and a media scrum. "It has become impossible for this court to conduct proceedings in this case."

The hearing comes as four Indian policemen were suspended over the handling of another suspected rape and murder case near Delhi. A 21-year-old woman's body was found on Saturday. The father of the alleged victim, a factory employee in Noida, told the BBC she was gang-raped, and accused the police of initially failing to react when he reported her disappearance. Two have been arrested while a third has fled.

Rowdy protests by some lawyers, who were denouncing other advocates who have stepped forward to defend the accused, delayed the start of proceedings in the packed court room and police were called in to restore order.

Late morning, several blue Delhi Police buses escorted by two police cars were seen driving into the Saket court complex in south New Delhi after jail authorities confirmed the suspects had been sent for their hearing.

The defendants have been named as Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Vijay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta.

A sixth accused, who is 17, is to be tried in a separate court for juveniles.

It normally takes months for the prosecution to assemble such a case, but the legal proceedings are getting under way barely a week after the 23-year-old student died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital.

The government, sensitive to criticism that a sluggish justice system often compounds the agony of victims, has pledged to fast-track the case against the defendants who are aged between 17 and 35. They all live in Delhi.

Police have pledged "maximum security" during the hearing at the court amid fears for the defendants' safety. A man was arrested last week as he allegedly tried to plant a crude bomb near the home of one of the men.

Legal experts say the magistrate Namrita Aggarwal will likely transfer the case to a higher court during Monday's hearing.

"The court will ask them if they have lawyers and then it will appoint an Amicus Curiae (lawyer) to represent them and supply copies of the charge sheet to the accused," said Vishwender Verma, a senior advocate at Delhi High Court.

"The case will then be committed to a sessions court as a magistrates' court cannot try rape and murder cases."

The student had spent the evening at a cinema with her boyfriend on the night of the attack. After failing to flag down an autorickshaw, they were lured onto a school bus they thought would take them home.

Instead, a gang are alleged to have taken it in turns to rape the young woman as well as sexually assault her with an iron bar that they also used to attack her companion. The pair were then thrown out of the moving vehicle.

Outlining their case before the same court in Saket on Saturday, prosecutors said there was DNA evidence to tie the defendants to the crime scene.

"The blood of the victim tallied with the stains found on the clothes of the accused," said Rajiv Mohan, part of the prosecution team.

There have been widespread calls for the attackers to be hanged, including from the victim's family.

Her father was quoted by Britain's Sunday People newspaper at the weekend as saying he wanted "death for all six of them" as well calling for his daughter's name to be made public "to give courage to other women".

But in an interview with Monday's Hindustan Times he said he only supported his daughter's name being used for a new law covering crimes against women.

"I want my daughter to be known as the one who could bring a change in the society and laws, and not as a victim of a barbaric crime," he told the paper.

Rape cases are usually held behind closed doors in India and it will be up to the court to decide what the media will be allowed to report.

The police have issued an advisory saying "it shall not be lawful for any person to print or publish any matter in relation to such proceedings" unless they receive permission from the court.

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