* Rape victim's body cremated soon after arrival
* Protests in Delhi city centre
* Six suspects charged with murder
* New alleged gang rape outside Kolkata, police say
By Adnan Abidi and Devidutta Tripathy
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 The body of a woman, whose
gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about
violence against women in India, arrived back in New Delhi on
Sunday and was cremated at a private ceremony.
Scuffles broke out in central Delhi between police and
protesters who say the government is doing too little to protect
women. But the 2,000-strong rally was confined to a single area,
unlike last week when protests raged up throughout the capital.
Riot police manned barricades along streets leading to India
Gate war memorial - a focal point for demonstrators - and, at
another gathering point - the centuries-old Jantar Mantar -
protesters held banners reading "We want justice!" and "Capital
Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go
unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to
social activists, who say that successive governments have done
little to ensure the safety of women.
The unidentified 23-year-old victim of the Dec. 16 gang rape
died of her injuries on Saturday, prompting promises of action
from a government that has struggled to respond to public
The medical student had suffered brain injuries and massive
internal injuries in the attack and died in hospital in
Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.
She and a male friend had been returning home from the
cinema, media reports say, when six men on a bus beat them with
metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. The friend survived.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among
India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18
hours, police figures show. Reported rape cases rose by nearly
17 percent between 2007 and 2011, according to government data.
Six suspects were charged with murder after her death and
face the death penalty if convicted.
In Kolkata, one of India's four biggest cities, police said
a man reported that his mother had been gang-raped and killed by
a group of six men in a small town near the city on Saturday.
She was killed on her way home with her husband, a senior
official said, and the attackers had thrown acid at the husband,
raped and killed her, and dumped her body in a roadside pond.
Police declined to give any further details. One officer
told Reuters no criminal investigation had yet been launched.
The leader of India's ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi,
was seen arriving at the airport when the plane carrying the
woman's body from Singapore landed and Prime Minister Mannmohan
Singh's convoy was also there.
A Reuters correspondent saw family members who had been with
her in Singapore take her body from the airport to their Delhi
home in an ambulance with a police escort.
Her body was then taken to a crematorium and cremated. Media
were kept away but a Reuters witness saw the woman's family, New
Delhi's chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, and the junior home
minister, R P N Singh, coming out of the crematorium.
The outcry over the attack caught the government off guard.
It took a week for the prime minister to make a statement,
infuriating many protesters. Last weekend they fought pitched
battles with police.
Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female
infanticide rarely enter mainstream political discourse.
Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed "Amanat", an Urdu
word meaning "treasure", by some Indian media could change that,
though it is too early to say whether the protesters can sustain
their momentum through to national elections due in 2014.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon added his voice to those
demanding change, calling for "further steps and reforms to
deter such crimes and bring perpetrators to justice".
Commentators and sociologists say the incident earlier this
month has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians
feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership
on social issues.
Newspapers raised doubts about the commitment of both male
politicians and the police to protecting women.
"Would the Indian political system and class have been so
indifferent to the problem of sexual violence if half or even
one-third of all legislators were women?" the Hindu newspaper
The Indian Express said it was more complicated than
realising that the police force was understaffed and underpaid.
"It is geared towards dominating citizens rather than
working for them, not to mention being open to influential
interests," the newspaper said. "It reflects the misogyny around
us, rather than actively fighting for the rights of citizens who
happen to be female."