New Delhi Returns to Normal as Police Ease Curbs After Clashes

Police lifted traffic restrictions and reopened metro stations in central New Delhi as India’s capital returned to normal following protests and violent clashes triggered by the gangrape of a 23-year-old student.

Authorities removed checkpoints around India Gate, the venue that saw the use of water cannons and tear gas over the weekend, easing the commute of office goers after the Christmas holiday. A ban against public gathering of more than four people remains in force, Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said in an interview.

Six men raped and brutalized the woman in a moving chartered bus in the city on Dec. 16, sparking outrage and anger that intensified into street demonstrations days later, fueled by postings on Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. sites. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm while the protesters demanded the death penalty for the six accused even as the victim remained critical in the hospital.

Data provided by India’s National Crime Records Bureau show about 24,200 cases of rape and 228,650 cases of crimes against women were reported in 2011. Still, figures given by the United Nations show 1.8 cases of rape for every 100,000 in India, compared with 63 in Sweden, 29 in the U.K. and 27 in the U.S. Most cases go unreported in India.

Rewriting Code

One policeman died yesterday following the clashes over the weekend, while 65 protesters and 78 security personnel were injured, the Times of India reported on Dec. 24.

Singh assured “all possible efforts to ensure security and safety to all women,” while the government set up a panel to rewrite the nation’s criminal code to include capital punishment for the “rarest of rare” rape cases.

Before last month’s hanging of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, India last executed the death penalty in 2004, when a convicted rapist was hanged 14 years after committing the crime. Slow trials and lax enforcement of laws also fueled the protests in the capital.

India has about 15 judges for each million of its 1.2 billion people, according to United Nations data. In China there are about 159 judges per million people, while in the U.S. the figure is about 108.

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