Family of gang rape victim light funeral pyre
By Rupam Jain Nair, AFPNEW DELHI--The victim of a gang rape and murder which triggered an outpouring of grief and revulsion across India was cremated at a private ceremony on Sunday as it emerged she was planning to marry in February.
December 31, 2012, 12:12 am TWN
The unidentified 23-year-old, the focus of nationwide protests since she was attacked on a bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, was cremated at a ceremony kept secret by authorities only hours after her body was repatriated from Singapore.
The funeral pyre was lit after traumatized relatives and friends said their final prayers at a ceremony in southwestern Delhi, according to mourners who revealed she had been due to wed a boyfriend who was injured in the same attack.
“They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi” for February, said Meena Rai, who was a close friend and neighbor. “I really loved this girl. She was the brightest of all.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the main ruling Congress party, were at Delhi airport to console her parents as they arrived home on a chartered plane with their daughter's body at around 4:00 a.m. (2230 GMT).
After initial treatment in a Delhi hospital following the attack, she was flown to Singapore on Wednesday night where doctors were unable to prevent a multiple organ failure. She was pronounced dead in the early hours of Saturday.
Her killing has prompted government promises of better protection for women, and deep soul-searching in a nation where horrifying gang rapes are commonplace and sexual harassment is routinely dismissed as “Eve-teasing.”
Several thousand people massed again on Sunday in the center of the Indian capital — some to express sympathy for the victim who had been out to watch a film with her boyfriend, others to voice anger at the government.