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50 protestors shave off their heads at Jantar Mantar

New Delhi, Jan 4, 2013, (IANS):

About 50 men had their heads tonsured in public at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi Friday, protesting that the government had failed to keep women safe in the country.

"I shaved off my head to show my anger and frustration against the rising crime against women in the country," Ankit Sharma, a 30-year-old protesting against rising incidence of rapes in the country, told IANS.

Demanding capital punishment for rapists, justice for the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim and stricter laws for crimes against women, some 50 protestors, most of them middle-aged, got their heads tonsured at the 18th century masonry observatory that has become the site of protests since the brutal gang-rape of a Delhi woman Dec 16.

"Those who want to highlight their protest can get their heads shaved for a good cause," said Varun Bakshi, an IT employee who too had his head tonsured. Barber Ram Kumar Thakur said: "I started to shave heads around 9.30 a.m. About 50 men have had their heads shaved. I'm charging Rs.20 each. Some women are cutting off locks of their hair as a mark of protest."

"I wanted to awaken the government from its sleep," said 21-year-old law student, Mohit Ranjan.  "The government has become insensitive. Why are they not calling a special session of parliament to amend the rape law... By getting my head shaved I wanted to draw the government's attention towards our demand of immediate justice for the rape victims," said 40-year-old Gopal Prasad, an activist.

"The tonsuring will be done tomorrow (Saturday) also. Many people have assured me that they would do it tomorrow," said Riche Luthria, who was coordinating and inviting protestors at Jantar Mantar.

Rajesh Gangwar and Babu Singh, who have been on a hunger strike over the issue, spent another night at Jantar Mantar in the biting cold as the city's temperature dipped to 2.7 degrees Celsius, the season's lowest and four notches below average.

Gangwar, 45, from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, is continuing his hunger strike for the 12th day Friday. Babu Singh, 40, a farmer from Farrukhabad also in Uttar Pradesh, is on the seventh day of his fast.

While Singh earlier participated in a hunger strike along with social activist Anna Hazare during his anti-corruption protest in the capital, Gangwar is fasting for the first time. Both are demanding immediate death sentence for the six accused in the gang-rape of the woman who died in a Singapore hospital Dec 29.

A doctor from the city's Ram Manohar Lohia hospital Friday checked on the health of the two protestors. "He (doctor) suggested to me to take ORS and glucose. But I am fine with water," Gangwar told IANS.

The doctor was sent by the government, Gangwar said.


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