Rahul Gandhi Leads Midnight Candlelight Vigil At India Gate Over Unnao, Kathua Rape Cases

| April 13 , 2018 , 08:16 IST

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday led a midnight candlelight vigil at the India Gate in Delhi in protest of the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, slamming the government for inaction and alleging that daughters of the country are not safe.

"We are here against crimes being committed against women, against rapes, violence and murder and the government must act on this. This is a national issue and not a political one," Gandhi said at the march towards the India Gate.

"This is about our women. Thousands are present here including the common people and people from all parties. This situation in the country is such today that one after another incident of murder, rape and violence is taking place. We are standing here against that and we want the government to act," he said.

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The march was attended by senior Congress leaders including Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid, Ashok Gehlot, Ajay Maken, Sushmita Dev, Haroon Yusuf, Randeep Surjewala and Ambika Soni. Rahul Gandhi's sister Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra also attended the protest, which was also attended by scores of Congress party workers and students, demanding urgent action against the perpetrators of the Unnao and Kathua rape cases.

Rahul Gandhi had announced the midnight protest in a tweet on Wednesday, and although he had termed it a 'silent' peaceful vigil, anti-BJP slogans could be heard by the protesters.

"Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does. Join me in a silent, peaceful, candlelight vigil at India Gate at midnight tonight to protest this violence and demand justice," tweeted Rahul Gandhi.

Earlier on Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi had spoken out against the rape of Asifa in Kathua in a tweet.

"How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil? What happened to Asifa at #Kathua is a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished. What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child?" he tweeted.

The rape of a 16-year old girl in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao took place reportedly last year, where the girl was gangraped by a BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his brother. Fighting for justice without success, the rape survivor attempted suicide in front of the residence of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, bringing her incident into the spotlight. While Sengar's brother has been arrested, Sengar himself has been detained by the CBI.

The kidnap, rape and murder of 8-year-old Asifa Bano in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua in January 2018, shook the nation and was reported in global media as well. The 8-year-old was kidnapped from a forest, force-fed sedatives and starved, as multiple men raped her over a period of days, before she was finally strangled to death. A total of 8 people have been arrested in connection with the Kathua case, including policemen who reportedly covered up the incident.

Both the Unnao and Kathua rape cases have a marked similarity in the sense that in both cases the assailants have been identified, yet justice is yet to be served.