A cameraman has been “killed in police firing” in North East India during a protest over a sex attack on an actress.
The journalist was shot dead as he tried to film the violence that erupted between security forces and protesters in Manipur on the second day of demonstrations.
After film actress Momoko publicly spoke out last week about her attack, thousands have demonstrated despite a ban on protests said the New York Times.
Demonstrators are also demanding the arrest of Momoko’s attacker.
The issue of sex crimes in India has become an urgent one after recent brutal attacks on young women have highlighted an endemic problem.
On December 16, the gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a bus in the Munirka area in New Delhi after she and a friend returned from an outing to watch a film, sparked outrage across India the BBC reports.
Police have said the student was raped for nearly an hour by several men. After the attack, both women were beaten with iron rods and thrown out of the moving bus into a Delhi street.
The New York Times notes that the victim suffered intestinal damage and remains in a critical condition, but has been removed from a ventilator.
Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, said the government has appointed a judicial commission to review the security of women. Shinde told News Agency ANI:
“The government is extremely concerned about the gang-rape case. All the [six] accused have been arrested. Sufficient evidence has been gathered. The charge sheet well be filed shortly. The government is requesting the courts for a speedy trial through fast-track courts.”
Since that attack, thousands of people took to streets on Saturday. Many held placards reading “Hang the Rapists” and “Save women, Save India.” Riot police used tear gas, water canons, and batons to prevent protesters from reaching Rashrapati Bhavan, the palatial home of President Pranab Mukherjee, the BBC reports.
Responding to the crisis, the government has announced a range of measures intended to make Delhi safer for women.
These include increased police night patrols, background checks on bus drivers and a ban on buses with tinted windows or curtains. The government has also pledged to seek life sentences for sex attackers. Despite this, many protesters are calling for the death penalty.
Albeena Shakil, 36, an activist who is helping to organize protests, told the New York Times:
“We are not happy with this piecemeal, drop-in-the-ocean, inane response of the government. We want some big changes. If the administration will not do it, who will?”
Women’s and students’ groups have detailed four demands: The fast-tracking of rape allegation cases, the registration of rape complaints when they happen by Indian police; new legislation on rape, child abuse, and sexual harassment, and the firing of the Delhi police commissioner for his handling of the protests.
Sonia Gandhi, the president of the governing Congress party, and her son Rahul, met with some of the protesters on Sunday morning at Ms. Gandhi’s residence, according to the News Agency ANI.
“I am with you … and justice will be delivered,” Ms. Gandhi promised.