By Ritu Sharma
Authorities have stepped up security in the capital over fears that the death today of a gang rape victim in a Singapore hospital where she was receiving treatment could spark a fresh round of violent protests.
The victim, a 23-year-old medical student, was attacked along with a male companion by six men while riding in a minibus in New Delhi on Decemeber 16. She was gang-raped and beaten with a metal rod before being dumped onto the road from the moving bus.
Indian authorities sent her to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital on December 27 after her condition began to deteriorate. She had suffered a heart attack and lung and abdominal infections. She died today from cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain.
Anticipating new protests, which have already seen thousands pour into the streets of the captial, authorities have closed the India gate where a police officer was killed last week during clashes with protesters.
Ten metro train stations have also been closed in an effort to limit the movement of large numbers of people to downtown areas.
Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar has urged that residents of the capital remain calm and maintain order.
In the days following the rape, thousands of demonstraters gathered in the capital to demand the death penalty for the victim’s attackers and greater effort by the government to curb violence against women.
Police responded with tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds.
President Pranab Mukherjee today called the victim brave and courageous in a message of condolence.
“We will do everything possible to ensure that such an incident never happens again,” the president said.
Six suspects have been arrested and charged with the rape.
Among other measures offered by the government in recent days is a public database in which convicted rapists would be “named and shamed”.
Minister of state for home affairs Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh would start in New Delhi and then extend to other parts of the country, according to a report in the Washington Post.
According to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau, two women are raped every hour in India, where rapes have increased by 20 percent between 2007 and 2011.