Members in both houses of parliament Monday expressed pain and anguish at the horrific torture and gang-rape of a young woman in a moving bus in Delhi with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde assuring a fast trial of the case as well as more measures to ensure safety of women.
Members in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha cut across party lines in strongly condemning the incident with many of them demanding capital punishment for rapists even as the 23-year-old victim continued to be critical and on ventilator support at a hospital here.
Raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Maya Singh proposed that there should be no legal recourse for such criminals.
"There should be toughest punishment for them and no one should argue their case," she said.
Samajwadi Party's Jaya Bachchan broke down, saying she wondered what would happen to the girl's family, while Trinamool Congress member Derek O'Brien said that as the father of a teenaged girl, he was scared.
Bachchan, the BJP's Najma Heptullah, Shiv Sena's Manohar Joshi and Rashtriya Janata Dal's Ram Kripal Yadav were among the members who said death sentence should be the punishment for the rapists. Bachchan said rape should be treated at par with attempt to murder.
"I am very worried about the parents of this girl. What is going to happen to them? All will forget but she will remember for the rest of her life. It'll be a scar," she said, her voice laden with emotion.
"Every day, women are getting raped by their fathers, their brothers, their uncles and it's a shame. We are bringing in bills for certain sections of society which are deprived. What about women who bring you into this world? Where is their protection?"
"I'm ashamed. I personally feel very very ashamed that I am sitting in this house and not being able to do anything and I am equally disturbed by the answers that keep coming to this house which are totally incorrect," she said.
Janata Dal-United's Shivanand Tiwari blamed growing commercialisation and projection of women as commodity in the media for increasing rape incidents, while O'Brien said rape is not just a women's issue.
"It's about men who stop behaving like human beings and start behaving like animals," he said.
BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said Shinde should take responsibility and assure the house that such an incident will not happen again.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati advocated tough punishment for the criminals and said it should be publicised to discourage any more such incidents.
Congress member Renuka Chowdhury suggested that all woman MPs should go and meet the Delhi chief minister and the city police commissioner.
Earlier, the house was adjourned twice during the question hour over the incident with opposition demanding a statement from the home minister.
Members in the Lok Sabha also expressed outrage over the shocking incident.
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the accused in such cases should be hanged.
Speaker Meira Kumar termed the incident "shameful and horrifying" and urged the government to take immediate and stern steps in the matter.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said: "We share the concern of the house. Strong steps would be taken in the matter,"
In his response, Shinde said the Delhi gang-rape case will be tried by a fast-track court with request for daily hearings and said action will be taken against police for any lapses in security of women.
He said a special task force under the home secretary will be set up to look into safety issues of women in the capital. It will take into account suggestions made by the MPs, he assured.