Sonia, Rahul meet protesters, appeal for calm

New Delhi: As protests over the gang-rape incident turned violent, Congress today appealed for calm with party President Sonia Gandhi assuring a group of youths that all steps will be taken to fast-track the case so that the assailants get punishment.

Rahul Gandhi is reported to have told the group that decisions cannot be driven by emotions and that they should be taken in a "rational" manner.

Sonia and Rahul, an AICC General Secretary, had an over 90 minute-long meeting with a group of protesters at her 10 Janpath residence during which Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh and Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhury were also present.

"A group of seven persons placed their demands, we also noted down their suggestions and also briefed them about the steps the government has taken so far. We had told them that there is a need to maintain calm and the government is committed to take all steps," Singh said.

Sonia is learnt to have expressed agreement with the contention of the protesters that there is a need to do much more to instill a sense of security among women and that the incident has indeed created a fear among them.

She is also learnt to have assured the youths that all steps will be taken to fast-track the case so that the perpetrators of the ghastly crime on the 23-year-old girl in a moving bus last Sunday night get punishment.

Sonia also nodded in the affirmative when the youths told them that there is an urgent need to sensitise the police forces.

Sources said during the meeting Rahul told the group of youths that while he understands and respect their emotions and acknowledged that the issue is very emotive, he also stressed that "decision making should happen in a rational manner. Decisions taken cannot be driven merely by emotions".

Rahul also told the youths to come out with rational suggestions to ensure that such incidents are prevented and perpetrators of such crime are given punishment in a short period of time.

Today's meeting in the morning came hours after Sonia came out of her residence shortly after midnight to meet a bigger group of protesters that had gathered there.

She sat among the protesters on the ground and talked to them for close to 20 minutes. She had told them that she would be willing to meet their delegation in the morning.

"I am with you…and justice will be delivered," Sonia had told them.