Indian PM appeals for calm amid rape protests

Police in New Delhi clashed with protesters enraged by the rape of a young woman on Monday.

Authorities also closed roads and railway stations in the heart of the Indian capital in a bid to restore order.

On December 16 the 23-year-old victim was beaten and gang-raped for nearly an hour before being thrown from a moving bus.

She is said to be still in a critical condition in hospital on respiratory support.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has been caught off-guard by the scale of the protests and Singh has come under fire for remaining largely silent since the rape.

He waited a week before issuing his first statement, and later on Monday he made a televised address to appeal for calm.

“Anger at this crime is justified, but violence will serve no purpose. I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm. I assure you that we will make all possible efforts to ensure the security and safety of women in this country.”

The rape seems to have hit a nerve with many Indians frustrated with what they see as weak governance on social and economic issues, especially complaining that it has done little to create a safer environment for women.

According to police figures a rape is reported on average every 18 hours in New Delhi.