Surrey community holds vigil for New Delhi gang-rape victim

LARISSA CAHUTE 
VANCOUVER DESI

Photo of the candlelight vigil from Laxmi Narayan Mandir Hindu Temple in Surrey. Submitted photo/@JinnySims, Twitter

Surrey’s Indo-Canadian community are asking for more to be done about women being brutally raped in their home country.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Laxmi Narayan Mandir Hindu temple on 140th Street Sunday afternoon for a candlelight vigil to honour victims, including the woman who died Saturday from injuries she sustained after being gang-raped and beaten on a New Delhi bus Dec. 16.

“(There’s) too much crime going on in India,” said council member of Surrey’s Vedic Hindu Culture Society, Satish Kumar. “It should be stopped.”

With protests erupting across India, the heartbreak reaches the local community here as well.

“We are from India, too … we have a lot of family (there) and we are visiting India all the time — it can happen to anybody,” said Kumar.

Following the Indian woman’s death on Saturday, Indian police charged six men in relation to the case — if convicted, they could face the death penalty.

But these charges came two weeks after the crime — this kind of response needs to be “fast-tracked,” said Kumar.

“The government should take a proper step to punish those guys,” he said. “The Canadian government should step in and put the pressure on the Indian government, they should take action back here, too.”

It’s a conversation that needs to be had, said Kumar, so the Vedic Hindu Culture Society is holding a council meeting Tuesday to discuss it.

“(We want to) try to get the community together to pressure the Indian government,” he said.

But he also wants to raise awareness beyond the local South Asian community.

“It’s not a one-person issue — it’s an issue for all communities,” he said. “For all people, too, not only Indians — for everybody. We want to meet with people and come out in public and tell you what’s going on.”

Newton-North Delta MP Jinny Sims also attended Sunday’s vigil and sent out a tweet that read “Thanks Surrey Mandir for the candlelit vigil for the young woman brutally raped in India.”

The tragic gang rape from Dec. 16 forced India to confront the reality that sexually assaulted women are often blamed, which discourages them from reporting the crime.

Protests have since erupted across the country for better protection of women from sexual crimes and raising questions about slack attitudes from police.

The Dec. 16 attack happened on a New Delhi bus. Six men beat the woman and the man she was with at the time, raped her and inserted an iron rod into her body, resulting in severe organ damage. The couple were then stripped and thrown off the bus, according to the Associated Press.

The woman was in hospital for 10 days until she was flown to a Singapore Hospital, where she later died.

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