Delhi gang-rape: Sonia, Rahul meet protesters, appeal for calm



New Delhi: As protests over the gang-rape incident escalated, Congress on Sunday appealed for calm with Rahul Gandhi emphasising that decisions cannot be driven by emotions and that they should be taken in a "rational" manner.

Party president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul 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 RPN 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.

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, an AICC general secretary, 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.

Sonia is learnt to have expressed agreement with the contentions of the protesters that there is a need to do much more to instil a sense of security among women and 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 get punishment.

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

Talking to reporters, the protesters quoted Sonia Gandhi as saying, “Sections 307 and 201 (of Indian Penal Code) will be added to the charges against the accused”.

Section 307 relates to attempt to murder and 201 pertains to causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information.

The protesters refused to give their names to the media, saying they were members of the "common public". They, however, added that the protests sweeping the city centre would continue.

This was the second time Sonia Gandhi met a section of young men and women who have been protesting noisily against December 16 rape that left the victim battling for life in hospital.

Gandhi came out of her residence past midnight and assured the protesters that "justice will be delivered".

According to one who was present, she spent about 20 minutes with 40-50 students and said she was "with them".

(With PTI/IANS inputs)