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Saddened India tones down New Year revelry

Published on Dec 31, 2012 7:34 PM
 
Indian artist Harwinder Singh Gill displays a sculpture in Amritsar on Dec 31, 2012. The Indian armed forces on Monday cancelled their New Year celebrations while many hotels and bars scaled back parties as the country prepared for 2013 still shocked by a deadly gang-rape. --PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - The Indian armed forces on Monday cancelled their New Year celebrations while many hotels and bars scaled back parties as the country prepared for 2013 still shocked by a deadly gang-rape.

"The Indian army, air force and navy have decided to cancel all the parties planned to welcome the new year. They want to dedicate the last day of the year to the gang-rape victim," a senior defence ministry official told AFP.

The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision was "voluntary" and no official order had come from the ministry.

In the capital, where the horrific crime took place on Dec 16, leading private members' club Gymkhana, where top officials and ministers are often seen, cancelled its party as did the Press Club in the capital.

The five-star Ashoka hotel in New Delhi also closed its popular nightclub, while other bar owners were quoted in the media as saying they were scaling back festivities.

"This New Year is not going to be the same for me and many of my friends," said Mr Ashish Gupta, a 34-year-old chartered accountant who joined protests against the crime on Sunday.

"Our heart goes out to the family of the woman who fought for her life so bravely. The least we can do is show our respect and send out the message that we share their grief," he told AFP.

The unidentified woman, a 23-year-old medical student, was repeatedly raped on a moving bus in New Delhi on Dec 16 and violated with an iron bar before being thrown from the moving vehicle.

She died of her horrific injuries in a Singapore hospital on Saturday.

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