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Protests rock Jantar Mantar,rattle Asaram supporters camping there

Protesting in silence for several months,Asaram’s supporters spoke out on Monday when other protesters raised his case.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Published: December 17, 2013 1:44:42 am

On a day several groups and organisations descended at Jantar Mantar to mark a year of the December 16 gangrape incident,one group found itself in a spot — the supporters of Asaram Bapu,who is facing charges of sexually assaulting a minor,found themselves surrounded by men and women denouncing rape and harassment of women.

Protesting in silence for several months,Asaram’s supporters spoke out on Monday when other protesters raised his case. “There is a conspiracy against Bapu. Why are these people talking about him on a day they have come to mark the December 16 case?” Guruveshwar,an Asaram supporter from Uttarakhand,said.

Jantar Mantar,the scene of protests last year after the gangrape incident,was witness to a series of prayer meetings and protests since morning till late evening as women activists and ordinary citizens,under different banners,gathered at the place,remembering the victim and criticising the authorities for not doing much to improve the safety of women at the workplace and in the street.

“It’s been a year but what has improved? I was at Saket mall yesterday (Sunday) but auto-rickshaws still refuse to ferry women passengers. There was no PCR van nearby. What has changed in the city? This is not just a prayer meeting for the victim but an ongoing protest to change our city for the better,” Meenakshi,a student protesting under the banner ‘16 December Kranti’,said.

Between cries for systematic changes,organisations such as the All India Democratic Women’s Association,All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and Pragatisheel Mahila Sangthan highlighted recent cases of sexual harassment,particularly the Tarun Tejpal and Justice Ganguly cases.

“We should recognise that the December 16 incident gave a voice to thousands of women who face harassment daily. The government should immediately dismiss Justice Ganguly. What is stopping the police from registering an FIR in the matter?” Kavita Krishnan,AIPWA national secretary,said.

A group of riot victims from Muzaffarnagar,too,was part of the protests.

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