Nation welcomes New Year 2013 with subdued revelry
New Delhi: The countrymen ushered in 2013 with new hopes and aspirations but in a subdued tone as the nation still reels under the shocking gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student by six men in a moving bus a fortnight ago and her death last week.
On the first day of 2013, protests continue across the nation, candle-light marches being planned and, in most places, people refraining from big ticket celebrations as a mark of respect for the 23-year-old brave girl, who succumbed to her injuries after battling for life for thirteen days.
As per reports, a large number people gathered at the historic Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, where public rallies are being held demanding stringent laws to ensure safety of women and a paradigm shift governance, policing and justice.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Indian Army and other top institutions also cancelled their plans to celebrate New Year.
In Delhi, Connaught Place (CP), the hotspot for New Year celebrations for years, wore almost a deserted look at midnight as a small crowd turned up to celebrate the occasion.
Police personnel outnumbered the revellers at CP. Last year, revellers had made CP a carnival site. People visited popular markets and fun spots on New Year eve where police kept a tight vigil to ensure that the festivities went ahead without any untoward incident but the celebrations were low-key when compared to the past.
Several clubs, including the Press Club of India and Delhi Gymkhana, and five-star hotels cancelled their New Year revelries following the death of the girl and cremation yesterday.
Protests were held at Jantar Mantar where a makeshift memorial was also built.
All roads leading to the CP were shut down with heavy police deployment at key areas. The Rapid Action Force equipped with water cannons and riot gears was deployed in the inner circle of CP.
Special crowd management arrangements were made at popular spots like the Gateway of India, Juhu beach and Girgaum Chowpatty. CCTVs were installed on roads that constantly monitored traffic violations. Extra security was in place at vital installations including Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the airport and the Mantralaya building. Nearly 48,000 police personnel patrolled the city in two shifts.
Bangalore entered New Year Tuesday on a frenzied note amid tight security, bidding adieu to a "forgettable" 2012.
At the stroke of midnight, thousands of revellers erupted in joy and greeted each other a "very happy new year" while youngsters broke into hip dance and shook a leg to the music of gangnam at a dozen hotspots across this tech hub to usher in 2013.
Even as hundreds of baton-wielding cops watched the revelry with a hawk's eye to weed out mischief makers and potential eve-teasers, about 5,000 revellers thronged popular jaunts like Brigade Road, M.G. Road, Commercial Street and Church Street in downtown to celebrate the annual occasion, albeit on a subdued note.
With hundreds of youth resolving to keep the event low-key as a fitting tribute to the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim, turnout of revellers at pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels was less than in the previous years.
Kolkata's fashionable Park Street was all decked up for the New Year party, but many thought the occasion apt to remember the Delhi gang-rape victim with flowers and candles.
Hundreds of people were seen gathering on the British era road since the evening, but simultaneously there was a substantial number who carried wreaths and lit candles as a mark of tribute to the 23-year-old physiotherapist trainee who was brutally raped and grievously injured by a group of miscreants Dec 16. She died in a Singapore hospital Saturday.
A group of women carried posters crying "We want severe punishment for rape offenders". NGO India's Smile brought out a candle light vigil in which college students and a large number of women participated.
There was virtually a scramble among people to put their signatures in a 30-feet banner that called for amending India's age-old laws on rape and honour killings to give the legislations more teeth.
At the stroke of midnight, a group of revellers in this state capital of Meghalaya welcomed the New Year by plunging into the icy water of a swimming pool.
Although this time the New Year's celebration was similar to previous years, however, a group of 28 revellers decided to make it more interesting by placing 50 ice-blocks, each weighing 50 kg, in the Crinoline swimming pool before taking a dip.
That apart, cheers erupted in the streets of Shillong and other smaller towns of the state as revellers greeted one another at the stroke of the midnight to welcome 2013.