NEW DELHI: Members of the civil society gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Monday and protested against the brutal rape and murder of a young veterinary doctor in Hyderabad, joining many others demanding justice for her across the country.
Wearing black bands, around 70 people led by Congress leader Amrita Dhawan took to the streets and carried placards that read "we want justice" and "hang the rapists".
Congress MP Revanth Reddy also joined the protest at Jantar Mantar and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk about the incident.
"Nirbhaya's rapists have still not been hanged. It's been seven years now. Modiji might have been successful in implementing 'Beti Bachao, Beti Badhao' but has been unsuccessful in providing security to women."
"You tweet about happenings across the country. It's been six days since the Hyderabad incident. Why has the PM not tweeted yet?" Reddy said.
At this time, PM Modi should have assured people, the lawmaker said.
The veterinary doctor, who worked at a state-run hospital, was raped and killed by four men, all lorry workers, on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Her charred body was found under a culvert in the city's Shadnagar area on Thursday and the accused were arrested a day later.
Dhawan, the organiser of the protest at Jantar Mantar, said, "I am organising this protest not as a politician but as a member of the civil society who is concerned about what is happening in our society. Why did we need another Nirbhaya-like incident to talk about how unsafe women are?" She said the judicial system has to ensure speedy justice, so that victims' families get some solace.
"Nirbhaya's rapists are still in jail and have not been hanged. Those in jail are living their life, getting food and sleep but what about the families of the victims, whose lives are ruined forever," she said.
Cries of 'we want justice', 'we are ashamed that your killers are alive' resonated at the protest site as people demanded justice for the Hyderabad victim and other women who faced such crimes.
Aditi Purohit, a student of Delhi University's Hansraj College, broke down while shouting the slogans.
"This is my first time in a protest. I am here because, just like a woman who stays in Delhi away from home, the issue affects me and my family."
Purohit, who hails from Jhansi, said her parents regularly call her and ask her to be back in the hostel by 5 pm.
"They start crying if my phone is switched off even for five minutes. What are women supposed to do?" Meanwhile, activists from Left-backed organisations also protested against the heinous incident and demanded justice for the victim.
Kawalpreet Kaur, Delhi president of All India Students' Association, said, "It is not the mistake of women if they are raped. Women are blamed when such incidents happen. Why are we not talking about the fact that had there been a good public transport system, she would not have been travelling on her scooter. Victim shaming has to end."
Raising anti-government slogans and demanding stringent punishment for the accused, the groups protested outside the Parliament Street police station.
Anjali, a protester, said rape culture is also promoted in Bollywood movies.
"Why are there no curfew timings for men in hostels? Only women have to face them. Bollywood promotes rape culture and movies like Kabir Singh promote how it is okay if a man hits a woman," she added.
Supriya Pandey, a make-up artiste, was holding a solo protest at Jantar Mantar.
Holding placards demanding punishment for rapists, she said, "I am groped and molested almost every day in Delhi buses. Nobody takes my permission before touching me. Why do I need permission to protest? Giving freebies to women will not help but ensuring safety for them will."
Protests are being held in several other cities across the country, including Telangana.
Students of two top West Bengal universities held separate protests in Kolkata on Monday, demanding prompt conviction and action in rape cases.