New Delhi: A grieving India's spontaneous outpouring of grief and pain at the death of a 23-year-old medical student who had was gang-raped and battered on a moving bus in Delhi, found many forms today.
Some people lit candles, some lay with black bands across their mouths, some marched in neat single files holding banners and placards. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi pledged to use all the power that laws and administration allow her "for the safety and protection of all women of our country and to ensure swift and fitting punishment for the perpetrators of such brutal act" to ensure that the fight of the nation's "beloved daughter" would not be in vain.
Among the many statements issued by political leaders today were those from the number 1 and number 2 of the ruling Congress, mother and son, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Mrs Gandhi first commented on the case yesterday; till today, her son had not remarked at all on the student who has been the main focal point of the country's attention for two weeks.
"As a woman, as a mother I understand how you feel. I appeal to you to remain calm and help strengthen our collective resolve to fight the menace of violence against women," Mrs Gandhi said in a rare televised address.
"We pledge that she will get justice and her fight will not have been in vain," she said.
Mrs Gandhi also sought to address the criticism that the government her party leads has been unresponsive to the massive protests that have engulfed India. She said, "To all of you who have stood vigil, who have expressed your anger and anguish publicly, who have poured out support, I want to assure you that your voice has been heard."
Rahul Gandhi's message was shorter, issued via a statement from his office, and rang clinical. "My heart goes out to the family of the young girl and millions of young Indians and their families who work, hope and pray for a better India. We as a nation must reflect on the events of the days gone by. As citizens, we must resolve to respect the dignity of women and follow the laws of the land. I join my mother and sister in offering deep-felt condolences to the young girl's family. My thoughts and prayers are with the family," he said.