New Delhi, Dec 21 : The rage spread, rapidly and steadily, through India's national capital Friday as students, activists and just concerned citizens gathered at various places in the city to protest the torture and gang-rape of a young woman, now battling to stay alive in a Delhi hospital.
As the protests literally reached President Pranab Mukherjee's doorstep, with angry demonstrators going right up till the gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan and one even managing to enter the complex, Delhi Police finally nabbed the two men who were at large.
As the evening set in, hundreds reached 10 Janpath, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's offficial residence, and held candle march and noisy protests. Police erected barricades and stopped anyone from entering her heavily fortified residence.
The parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, on its part, summoned union Home Secretary R.K. Singh and Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar Dec 27 to discuss atrocities against women and the law and order situation in the national capital.
R.K. Singh and Neeraj Kumar later held a press conference and said they will be seeking "maximum punishment" for the accused persons. They said they will seek fast-track and day-to-day trial in the case that has shocked the nation.
But the Delhi High Court said it is not "convinced" with the status report filed by the Delhi Police which did not mention the details of police officials patrolling the area where the woman was gang-raped and tortured in a moving bus.
A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: "We have gone through the report and we are not convinced. None of the details of the police officials has been mentioned," said the court expressing its displeasure at the police for not filing the detailed report.
Faced with the growing outrage, with protests not just in New Delhi but also elsewhere in the country, Delhi Police arrested two more accused, including one who has claimed that he is a juvenile. The sixth man identified as Akshay Thakur has been arrested from Aurangabad in Bihar.
In scenes unprecedented in the city, multiple protests broke out - at India Gate, Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Jantar Mantar and 10 Janpath in the heart of Lutyens Delhi as well as outside Safdarjung Hospital, where the 23-year-old victim of the savage gang-rape fought a valiant battle against her injuries but continued to stay critical.
Rarely, if ever, have so many people taken to the streets in so many different places for a single cause. It was an unstoppable momentum.
Demanding justice and fast track courts, many people have rallied in protest in the capital in the five days since the incident Sunday night, when the physiotherapist intern was brutally assaulted and her male friend beaten in a moving bus. Both were stripped and dumped by the roadside near the domestic airport after the nearly 40-minute ordeal.
The residence of Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and the police headquarters have all witnessed the spontaneous outpouring of anger.
"About 250 protestors thronged the high-security zone of Rastrapati Bhavan. We had to divert them back to India Gate," a senior police official told IANS after forces tried in vain to control the surging demonstrators.
Swati, a student at the YWCA, managed to slip past the gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan, before she was pushed back.
"They do nothing to protect us, and when we want justice, they say we need permission to enter the president's house. Such a heinous crime has occurred, and they expect us to seek permission to protest," Swati said.
As people hit the streets of Delhi to vent their grief and anger, the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in central Delhi offered the victim free intestinal transplant.
Doctors treating the woman said their focus was on providing her the best treatment as her life was at grave risk. She underwent surgery to remove a gangrenous section of intestine, and there was risk of infection.
"These are early signs of sepsis," B.D. Athani, medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, told reporters here. Sepsis is a potentially deadly medical condition characterised by a whole-body inflammatory state caused by severe infection.
"The next three to four days are very crucial," he added.
The woman, who had been on a ventilator since Sunday night, is now able to breathe "comfortably" without it for several hours.
The young woman and her uncertain future were focal points for the entire nation, even for a group of Muslim clerics in Mumbai who said rape could only be stemmed through a change in the present "capitalistic, patriarchal" social system.
Demanding justice for the girl, the clerics said in a statement: "The Delhi gang-rape is a horrifying and spine chilling incident."