Sonia visits hospital to inquire about rape victim’s condition

New Delhi: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday night visited Safdarjung Hospital to inquire about the condition of the gang-rape victim and asked the government to take the strictest possible measures to prevent such barbaric incident that has shaken the country.

Gandhi was at the hospital here for about 15-20 minutes during which she inquired about the condition of the 23-year- old girl from the doctors and met her parents, according to Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi.

The doctors told Gandhi that the girl was in a critical state, he said.

According to doctors, the condition of the para-medical student, who was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by a group of men in a moving bus here on Sunday, had deteriorated in the evening after which she was put on "full-time ventilator support".

The Congress President wrote to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and talked to National Commission for Women Chairperson Mamta Sharma, asking them to ensure that all possible measures are taken so that such incidents do not occur again.

In her letter to Shinde, Gandhi, who is also the UPA Chairperson, said, "It is a shame for all of us who are responsible for the security of our cities that a young woman can be raped in a moving bus in the capital of the country and flung on to the street."

"This monstrous crime deserves not only universal condemnation but also the government's most urgent attention," she said, noting that it is imperative that the police and other agencies concerned are sensitised to the danger that our daughters, sisters and mothers face every day.

"The security agencies must be motivated, trained and equipped to deal with this menace," the Congress chief said, hoping that the Home Minister would initiate immediate action to remedy the situation.

Gandhi, in her letter to Dikshit, said everyone was horrified by the incident. "It is a matter of shame that these incidents recur with painful regularity and that our daughters, sisters and mothers are unsafe in our capital city," she said.

Noting that such violence and criminality needed not only to be condemned but called for a concerted effort to fight them, Gandhi asked the Delhi Chief Minister to take whatever steps were necessary to undertake community action, to strengthen law and order, and to step up vigilance to protect women.

"There is an urgent need to demonstrate our sincerity and determination," Gandhi said, adding that Dikshit had her and the party's support in whatever efforts were needed to curb this menace.

According to Dwivedi, Gandhi wanted the guilty in the case to be brought to book at the earliest.

Earlier in the day, both Houses of Parliament expressed shock and outrage over the heinous gangrape of the girl in a moving bus in south Delhi. Members, cutting across party lines, made strong demands for capital punishment to perpetrators of such crimes.

Opposition members demanded a categorical assurance from the Home Minister that such an incident will not recur.

Women members in both Houses were in the forefront in expressing shock and anguish over the incident, voicing concern over the safety of the fair sex in Delhi. Cinestar- turned-MP Jaya Bachchan even broke down while speaking on the issue in the Upper House.

In Lok Sabha, Speaker Meira Kumar led the House in expressing outrage over the "spine-chilling" incident, saying it was shameful for the entire society.