PM appeals for calm

New Delhi, Dec 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a brief address on television Monday, appealed to the people to maintain peace and calm, and said that "violence will serve no purpose". He said action would be taken against the rapists of a 23-year-old woman who is now battling for her life in a Delhi hospital.

Earlier, the 23-year-old victim's father, in a statement of quiet sorrow on a TV channel which had blurred his face to protect his identity, said taking to the streets would not help, and sought prayers for his daughter.

The prime minister, in his television address, said: "There is genuine and justified anger and anguish at this ghastly incident." He added: "I assure you that we will make all possible efforts to ensure security and safety of women in this country."

The prime minister referred to the steps earlier announced by Home Minister Shushilkumar Shinde and said: "The home minister has already spoken about the steps being taken. We will examine without delay not only the responses to this terrible crime but also all aspects concerning the safety of women and children."

"Our government will keep you informed of the steps taken. I appeal to all sections of society to maintain peace and help us in our efforts," the prime minister said, adding: "As a father of three daughters, I feel as strongly about the incident as any other. We will ensure justice is delivered in the case."

The prime minister urged the nation that instead of resorting to violence, people should pray for the health of woman.

Manmohan Singh said: "We are all joined in our concern for the young woman who was the victim of a heinous crime In Delhi... We are constantly monitoring her medical condition. Let us all pray for her and her loved ones during this critical time.

"I feel deeply sad at the turn of events leading to clashes between protesters and police forces. I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm... I seek the cooperation of all sections of the society to help us in this endeavour and maintain peace."

Meanwhile, DMRC shut down nine metro stations Monday after protests in central Delhi turned violent Sunday. The protestors, many of them students in school or college, raised slogans and demanded justice for the 23-year-old woman who was brutally gang-raped last week and now battles for life at Safdarjung Hospital here.