The body of the Delhi gang rape victim whose death has led to a massive outpouring of grief and anger across India was cremated in the city on Sunday morning, within hours of landing amid tight security.
Her dead body was earlier flown from a hospital in Singapore back to New Delhi in an Air India special aircraft. It was received by the country’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and the President of the ruling congress party, Sonia Gandhi.
The body was then taken to her home, where religious rituals were performed, before being taken to a local crematorium amid heavy deployment of police and other security forces.
Media were not allowed in the crematorium, where the cremation took place under a dense cover of fog. The location and timing of the cremation had not been disclosed for fear of further unrest.
The 23-year-old victim, who underwent three operations, suffered damaged internal organs, brain injury and a cardiac arrest.
The girl, a physiotherapy student, was allegedly gang-raped and brutally assaulted by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi on 16 December.
Demonstrations continued even on Sunday, as protesters gathered at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, to demand stricter rape laws. Braving the biting cold, hundreds of people stayed overnight to demand justice for the unnamed, unidentified victim. There are reports of further protests today across India.
Meanwhile, Delhi police have imposed a ban on gatherings of more than four people in various places in the capital. Ten metro stations close to India Gate have also been closed as a precautionary measure.
The girl's death has sparked a global outcry and Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, has asked the Indian government to implement reforms and bring the perpetrators to justice.
While this shocking case has galvanised India, sexual abuse cases rarely receive such attention. And as things settle, little seems to change on the ground.
Even as the country is seething with anger and demanding stricter laws to deal with crimes against women, another shocking incident reportedly took place on a Delhi bus last night, when a girl was allegedly molested by two conductors.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's big cities. There is a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to India’s homeland security department.
Government data shows the number of reported rape cases in India rose by nearly 17 per cent between 2007 and 2011.
Authorities said as many as 754 accused were arrested from the 635 cases reported to Delhi Police between January and November, the highest figure in the past five years.
But out of more than 600 cases of rape reported to Delhi police this year, there has been only one conviction.