April 15 2014
On a balmy December day on the outskirts of New Delhi, thousands of people poured into a dusty field to hear Narendra Modi speak. The combative 63-year-old politician, sporting a neatly trimmed silver beard, frameless glasses, and light beige tunic, took the stage one year after a brutal December 2012 gang rape in India’s capital sparked nationwide protests. Tens of thousands of rapes are reported in India each year, yet few are brought to trial and even fewer are successfully prosecuted. Of the 706 rape cases filed in 2012, only one has resulted in a conviction. “Remember Nirbhaya!” Modi bellowed to the crowd. The politician invoked the name — meaning “fearless one,” which the public gave to the gang-rape victim — to push a message for the parliamentary election, taking place in April and May, which Modi’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to win by a wide margin, earning him the prime minister’s seat. Delhi, he said at the rally, has “earned a bad name as the rape capital. When you vote, do not forget this.”
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