Indian protestors covered in clay hold weighing scales during a protest in New Delhi
India grieves as six gang-rape suspects face death sentence PM appeals for calm; body of victim flown out of Singapore

NEW DELHI, Dec 29, (AFP): The body of a gang-rape victim was being flown back to New Delhi on Sunday after her death from sickening injuries in a Singapore hospital triggered a mass outpouring of grief and anger in India.
The plane carrying the 23-year-old medical student’s body and her family set off from Singapore shortly after midnight (1600 GMT Saturday) and was expected to land before dawn in Delhi where thousands of people held a late-night candlelit vigil.
As police said the six accused of murdering the 23-year-old could face the death penalty, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led appeals for calm to prevent a repeat of the sometimes violent protests that followed the December 16 assault.
Thousands took part in fresh demonstrations on Saturday but they passed off peacefully as mourners vowed the medical student’s killing would serve as a tipping point for how the nation deals with violence against women.
The unnamed woman’s tragic death has caused widespread revulsion. Doctors who had been treating her at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital after she was airlifted there on Thursday were unable to prevent multiple organ failure.
Protestors who gathered in the Jantar Mantar thoroughfare in central Delhi, scene of the largest protest, said the unnamed student’s death was a wake-up call for a country in denial about the levels of violence that women face.
The numbers swelled throughout the day and into the evening, with some 5,000 taking part in a candlelit vigil after nightfall despite near freezing temperatures.
Bela Rana, who was among the protestors, said the outrage after the attack represented a sea change and women were no longer prepared to suffer in silence.
“We are aware that this is not the first case, nor will it be the last case of gang-rape in India, but it is clear that we will not tolerate sex crimes anymore,” said Rana, a Delhi-based lawyer.
After previous protests had been broken up by riot police, Saturday’s passed off peacefully.
However when the chief minister of New Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, tried to join the crowds she was roundly heckled and quickly withdrew.
Some of the protesters, who also gathered in outlying areas of the capital, carried banners that read “Hang the Rapist”, accompanied by a picture of a noose.
New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said the six face the death penalty if convicted, in case that has triggered protests across India for greater protection for women from sexual violence, and raised questions about lax attitudes by police toward sexual crimes.
The tragedy has forced India to confront the reality that sexually assaulted women are often blamed for the crime, forcing them to keep quiet and discouraging them from reporting it to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule. Police often refuse to accept complaints from those who are courageous enough to report the rapes, and the rare prosecutions that reach courts drag on for years.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was aware of the emotions the attack has stirred, adding it was up to all Indians to ensure that the young woman’s death will not have been in vain.
The victim “passed away peacefully” early Saturday at Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore with her family and officials of the Indian Embassy by her side, Dr Kevin Loh, the chief executive of the hospital, said in a statement.
 

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