London: Over 100 non-resident Indians here held a candle light protest last against the gangrape of the 23-year-old medical student in Delhi and demanded severe punishment to the culprits.
The protesters holding tricolours and candles, met at Hounslow’s Shree Jalaram Seva Trust temple. Hounslow is a London borough close to Heathrow Airport with a sizeable Indian population.
Many people spoke about their grief at the passing away of the victim. 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 the girl 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 media 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,” he said.
Apart from prayers and sympathy, there was mention of the community coming together to raise funds for the victim’s family.
“There are many many people who are very generous and especially for such causes. We always come forward for any worthy cause,” said Councillor Jagdish Sharma, leader of the Hounslow Council.
“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,” he said.
There have been precedents.
Many people got together to raise funds for murder victim 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 harsher punishments for rapists. We must awaken the Indian government. It seems asleep right now,” said Nachiket Joshi, local youth leader.
The case of the student, who was gangraped and brutally beaten on a moving bus in New Delhi a fortnight ago, 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.