London's NRIs pray, condole and offer to help Amanat's family

London's NRIs pray, condole and offer to help Amanat's family

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London:  The case of the 23-year-old medical student, who was gang-raped and brutally beaten on a moving bus in New Delhi, has shocked many among the Indian community in the UK. There has been an instant outpouring of sympathy over the past couple of days in London with many people coming out to mourn together.

Over 100 people with tricolours in one hand and candles in the other met at Hounslow's Shree Jalaram Seva Trust temple. Hounslow is a London borough close to the Heathrow Airport with a sizeable Indian population.

Many people spoke about their grief at the passing away of Amanat (NOT her real name).

Many held up posters that read "We demand stricter laws" and "RIP India's daughter".

The prayer meeting started with local politicians voicing their concerns about what happened to Amanat and how it has touched them personally. "My sister and I talk on the phone regularly and all we have been talking about last few days is this case," said Seema Malhotra, Labour MP from Feltham and Heston.

There was considerable anger against the Indian government at the meeting. "Why was she taken to Singapore when we have the best doctors in India?" asked a housewife who turned up with her daughter to pay homage to "India's daughter".

For many this has been a mediated event - something they've watched on television and read about in the newspapers.

Darshan Grewal, has a unique perspective. He's been a Delhi cop and also served as the mayor of Hounslow. "For days nobody said anything. Sonia ji didn't say much and Sheila Dikshit, also didn't say much. But now you young people - you've put pressure on them to change themselves."

Many people in the crowd, especially women, were quite emotional about the case and wanted to tell the Indian government, "Make India safer for women."

Apart from prayers and sympathy, there was mention of the community coming together to raise funds for her family.

"There are many many people who are very generous and especially for such causes. We always come forward for any worthy cause. Even in the past, many people have sent money through the Indian High Commission and through other people and I think you won't be disappointed at all at the way people show their support and generosity," said Jagdish Sharma, another prominent member of the local community here.

There have been precedents. Many people got together to raise funds for Anuj Bidve's family earlier this year by way of a charity event held at the O2 arena in London.

For many it was a time to reflect on how they can push for change, even if they don't reside in India.

"We've got over two thousand signatures for our petition asking the Indian government to introduce fast track courts and introduce harsher punishments for rapists. We must awaken the Indian government. It seems asleep right now," said Nachiket Joshi, a local youth leader. 
Story First Published: December 31, 2012 17:55 IST

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