Umair Khaliq will not get drunk this New Year’s eve. He will not groove to his favourite Honey Singh numbers. He will not be found zipping in his SUV on Delhi’s roads in the wee hours. Rather, the 21-year-old photographer has told his friends he will spend December 31st night at Jantar Mantar. “I don’t feel like celebrating this year. I never thought I would decide to stay back at Jantar Mantar. But then I will do it,” says Khaliq, who has been participating in anti-rape protests in the national capital for three days now. “I don’t know how many of my friends will join me. But I don’t care.”
Khaliq and his group of around 30 odd people- students, working professional and traders who befriended each other during the agitation in the wake of Delhi gangrape – will stay back at the protest venue at least till 1 a.m, tonight. “We will light candled and pray for her. She was one of us,” says Khaliq.
Animesh Verma works as a chef in Australia. On his current visit to the national capital, he says this is not the time to celebrate but to send a message that the country will not tolerate crime against women. “I could have stayed back home tonight. But I will be here at the protest venue because this government has a hearing problem. We need to be loud in giving this message to them. That’s why the plan at Jantar Mantar,” says he. Verma has informed more than 50 people through social media about the programme. “It does not matter to me if they don’t come. I want to do my bit,” says Verma.
For BBA student Ashish Gehlot, decisions such as spending the night of December 31st at Jantar Mantar, is a step towards creating a sensitised society. “We can’t be an ignorant society and depend only on the government to contain rape cases. The question all of us should be asking is: What are we doing to stop crime against women?” says Gehlot, who said that he and at at least ten of his friends will pray for a new mindset this new year.
Despite it being a working day, around 400 people gathered at Jantar Mantar on Monday, demanding a stricter rape law, more than ten days after a physiotherapy student was gangraped aboard a moving in South Delhi’s Munirka area. The 23-year-old victim succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital on Saturday.
Meanwhile the Delhi Police have said that a case has been registered at the Vasant Vihar police station under section IPC 228(a) against a reporter, editor and printer of the Mail Today newspaper because they had published the real name of the gang-rape victim and a picture of her brother. The police have taken suo moto cognizance of the matter.