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Secret cremation for gang-rape victim sparks anger against Indian government

A young woman who died after being gang raped and beaten on a bus in India's capital was cremated Sunday amid an outpouring of anger by Indians demanding greater protection for women.

By Correspondent / December 30, 2012

An elderly Indian man shouts slogans during a candle-lit vigil to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India, Sunday. The woman who died after being gang-raped and beaten on a bus in India's capital was cremated Sunday amid an outpouring of anger and grief by millions across the country demanding greater protection for women from sexual violence.

Dar Yasin/AP

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New Delhi

Protests became violent today in Delhi as the youth wing of the opposition Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) pelted stones at police and tried to climb over barricades following news of the secret cremation of the body of the Delhi gang rape victim.

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The young woman was cremated on the outskirts of Delhi Sunday morning in an effort to prevent the public from swarming the funeral site. However, this only increased public resentment, reaffirming the growing perception that the government was being hostile to the protests.

Protests began nearly two weeks ago, after the gang rape and brutal assault of the 23-year-old on Dec. 16, with an outpouring of anger by Indians demanding greater protection for women from sexual violence. Demonstrators marched to Raisina Hill, which houses the presidential palace. There, on the first day of demonstrations a young girl breached security and entered the palace. 

As protests became more organized on Facebook and by political organizations, more people took to the streets and the relationship between protestors and police grew more strained.

One protester was filmmaker Anusha Rizvi, who witnessed left-wing groups form a circle and peacefully protest within it. “By afternoon we heard policemen announce loudly in their walkie talkies that they would start charging on the crowd. The regular police went behind and the police criss-crossed through the group of people in the circle.”

The police then charged the crowds with batons, fired tear gas and water canons. The government later said the police had little choice because the protests had become violent. However, many witnesses say the police charged on nonviolent crowds who were sitting on the road.

“I couldn’t see anything. I just heard the two cracks of a split bamboo stick on my back, butt, and thighs. Then I heard the police screaming ... and then I saw a boot kicking my knees and shin,” wrote graphic designer Sangeeta Das in a widely circulated Facebook note.

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