NEW DELHI — India said on Saturday it may consider using the death penalty to punish rapists as police fired tear gas to quell the most violent day of demonstrations against the brutal gang-rape of a young woman.
Struggling to subdue mounting protests in the capital, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the Congress-led government would look at “enhanced punishment in the rarest of rare rape cases” — a reference to capital punishment.
The current maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment and “it (the death penalty) will have to be discussed in detail,” Shinde told a news conference late on Saturday.
Thousands of protesters, many of them college students, converged at the India Gate monument in the heart of the capital in the biggest of nearly a week of demonstrations since the assault took place last Sunday.
They then surged toward government buildings and the sprawling presidential palace, shouting “We want justice” and “Stop this shame” and remained late into the night as doctors said the victim was in critical but stable condition.
Some carried banners that read: “Hang them (the rapists) now” and clashes erupted when a group in the crowd tried to break through police barricades and march towards the president’s house. Some people hurled stones.
Some 20 students were injured in the clashes and taken to hospital, the Press Trust of India reported, while opposition party leaders condemned the police for use of force to subdue the crowds. khaleej times