Indian PM "deeply saddened" by gang-rape victim's death

NEW DELHI - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Saturday he was deeply saddened by the death of a gang-rape victim and that the protests which erupted in the aftermath of her assault were “understandable”.

“I am deeply saddened to learn that the unfortunate victim of the brutal assault that took place on December 16 in New Delhi has succumbed to the grievous injuries she suffered following that attack,” he wrote on his website.

“We have already seen the emotions and energies this incident has generated. These are perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change.

“I want to tell them (her family) and the nation that while she may have lost her battle for life, it is up to us all to ensure that her death will not have been in vain.”

India has been rocked by mass protests since the 23-year-old was brutally assaulted on a bus in New Delhi by a group of six men.

The government has tried to assuage the tide of anger by promising tougher punishments for the most extreme sex crimes as well as establishing an official commission of inquiry into the handling of the rape case.

Singh, who has previously called for calm, said that it would be “a true homage to her memory if we are able to channelize these emotions and energies into a constructive course of action”.

“The need of the hour is a dispassionate debate and inquiry into the critical changes that are required in societal attitudes.

“I hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to help us all reach the end that we all desire – making India a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in.”

Protests and outrage over rape breaks out in New Delhi
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