New Delhi: Nation ushered in 2013 with new hopes and aspirations but in a subdued tone as it was still reeling under the shock of the death of a 23-year-old girl who was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus a fortnight ago.

Prez's New Year message on women’s safety


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Delhi

Connaught Place (CP), the hotspot for New Year celebrations for years, wore almost a deserted look at midnight as a small crowd turned up to celebrate the occasion.
    
Police personnel outnumbered the revellers at CP. Last year, revellers had made CP a carnival site.
    
People visited popular markets and fun spots on New Year eve where police kept a tight vigil to ensure that the festivities went ahead without any untoward incident but the celebrations were low-key when compared to the past.
    
Several clubs, including the Press Club of India and Delhi Gymkhana, and five-star hotels cancelled their New Year revelries following the death of the girl and cremation yesterday.
    
Protests were held at Jantar Mantar where a makeshift memorial was also built.
    
During the day, a large number of students took out a march in CP, protesting against the gang rape of the young girl. The Central Park in the CP was closed and a banner read it was under renovation.
    
Several restaurants and eating joints at CP were decorated for the celebrations.

All roads leading to the CP were shut down with heavy police deployment at key areas.

    
The Rapid Action Force equipped with water cannons and riot gears was deployed in the inner circle of CP.
    
It was a no-vehicle zone this evening at CP to control the crowd in the New Year hotspot. Police personnel were in huge numbers there, keeping a close watch on the revellers.
    
Policemen armed with alcometres were out on streets to check drunken driving as additional personnel were deployed across the city in the night to maintain law and order.
    
Delhi Police also said that for drunken driving, besides the cash fine upto Rs 2,000 and suspension of driving licences, defaulters may also be given a jail term.
    
City police made elaborate security and traffic arrangements to ensure that the celebrations passed off peacefully.

Kolkata

Kolkata's fashionable Park Street was all decked up for the New Year party, but many thought the occasion apt to remember the Delhi gang rape victim with flowers and candles.

Hundreds of people were seen gathering on the British era road since the evening, but simultaneously there was a substantial number who carried wreaths and lit candles as a mark of tribute to the 23-year-old.

"Yes, we will celebrate New Year. But we also mourn for her, and what she had to go through," said a young woman.

"We have brought flowers and candles in her memory. We only want the administration to know how bad we feel. How horror-stricken we are," said middle-aged women, who identified herself as a lawyer.

A group of women carried posters crying "We want severe punishment for rape offenders".

NGO India's Smile brought out a candle light vigil in which college students and a large number of women participated.

There was virtually a scramble among people to put their signatures in a 30-feet banner that called for amending India's age-old laws on rape and honour killings to give the legislations more teeth.

"We will send the banner with signatures to our President Pranab Mukherjee," said Rajeev Sarkar, an official of the NGO.

Mumbai

Only a few hours before Mumbai's Gateway of India turns into a party spot with revellers ushering in the New Year, a sombre mood greeted those who gathered here to condole the death of the victim who passed away on Saturday.

Participants from social organisations marched to the Gateway of India.

Hundreds of people from the Republican Party of India (RPI) led by party chief Ramdas Athawale joined protestors in a candlelight vigil that started from Regal Cinema in south Mumbai, over a km away from the Gateway of India.

Many marched in silence, carrying placards expressing grief over the woman's death.

Others demanded that the government strengthen law-enforcement and legal systems for speedy justice and deterrent punishment.

They also demanded that women's help desks be set up at all police stations across all cities and towns in India.

Bangalore

Bangalore entered New Year on a frenzied note amid tight security, bidding adieu to a "forgettable" 2012.

At the stroke of midnight, thousands of revellers erupted in joy and greeted each other a "very happy new year" while youngsters broke into hip dance and shook a leg to the music of gangnam at a dozen hotspots across this tech hub to usher in 2013.

Even as hundreds of baton-wielding cops watched the revelry with a hawk's eye to weed out mischief makers and potential eve-teasers, about 5,000 revellers thronged popular jaunts like Brigade Road, M.G. Road, Commercial Street and Church Street in downtown to celebrate the annual occasion, albeit on a subdued note.

Unlike in the previous years, absence of womenfolk, especially girls in large numbers at busy junctions and favourite jaunts was conspicuous, as many of them opted to stay away from milling crowds for safety and security reasons.

With hundreds of youth resolving to keep the event low-key as a fitting tribute to the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim, turnout of revellers at pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels was less than in the previous years.

"We have decided to skip the new year fete this time as we have been mourning the tragic death of the rape victim in Singapore early Saturday after a 13-day ordeal and seeking justice to rest her soul in peace by hanging her perpetrators," Meenakshi Sundaram, an executive in a private firm said.

Taking a cue from other cities across the country, about 10,000 police personnel were on night duty.

The city traffic police department also blocked vehicular movement on all flyovers across the city, from 9 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday, to prevent untoward incidents or mishaps due to rash or drunken driving.

Chennai
    
New Year 2013 was welcomed with fervour in the city and other parts of Tamil Nadu as the people broke into celebrations bursting crackers and exchanging greetings.
    
People also offered special prayers in places of worship while the city's skyline was lit by fireworks as chimes of the clock and church bells announced the dawn of the new year, bringing down the curtains on 2012.
    
Chennaites heralded the new year with a large number of youngsters turning up at the famous Marina Beach, Elliots Beach and other public places after partying till late night.
    
After a chorus countdown during the last minutes of the outgoing year, the revellers broke into celebrations sending out high-pitched "Wish You A Happy New Year" greetings.
    
Special prayers were held in temples, churches and mosques in the city where thousands of police personnel kept a strict vigil. Police had laid down stringent norms for star hotels and other places for safe conduct of New Year parties.
    
The virtual world too was filled with New Year wishes, as netizens exchanged wishes across social networking sites.
    
The coastal town of Kanyakumari, the southern-most tip of the Indian peninsula, was buzzing with tourists eager to catch a glimpse of the first sunrise of 2013.
    
Sunrise and sunset, seen from Kanyakumari seashore offers a spectacular sight as the sun is viewed from a thin strip of land protruding into the waters at the confluence of three seas - the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
    
At Idinthakarai, the epicentre of protests against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, several activists from across the country expressed their solidarity with the protesters on the eve of new year and vowed to continue their struggle.
    
Leaders, including Governor K Rosaiah, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and DMK President M Karunanidhi extended their greetings to the people of the state.

Jaipur

Special police teams have been deployed at all key points in the Pink city to deter drunk driving and keep check on miscreants during New Year celebrations.
    
"Teams with breath analysers have been positioned at important points and stern action as per the Motor Vehicle Act will be taken against those found driving vehicles under the influence of alcohol or violating other rules. The vehicle in case of drunken driving will be seized," Police Commissioner B L Soni said.
    
Traffic police department is operating a special help line for traffic related services and people may inform the police on 1095 about any incident or problem, Kumar said.

Guwahati

Security has been beefed up in Guwahati and other parts of Assam on the New Year, with city police launching special drive against drunk driving.
     
"We have stepped up patrolling and put both uniformed personnel and plainclothes police at sensitive places. Our main target are those who are engaged in drunk driving," Kamrup Metro Senior Superintendent of Police A K Tiwari said.
     
He said the operation against drunk driving has been going on since last few days and police have recovered fines to the tune of lakhs of rupees from violators.
     
In addition, police are also continuing drive against tainted glasses in cars.

He said all bars, restaurants, hotels and other places would have to wound up their New Year parties by 12.30 am and anybody found violating the directives in this regard would be penalised.
     
The district administration here has already allotted special one-time licences for places organising New Year parties and those who would be serving alcoholic drinks.

Shillong

At the stroke of midnight, a group of revellers in this state capital of Meghalaya welcomed the New Year by plunging into the icy water of a swimming pool.

Although this time the New Year's celebration was similar to previous years, however, a group of 28 revellers decided to make it more interesting by placing 50 ice-blocks, each weighing 50 kg, in the Crinoline swimming pool before taking a dip.

"Plunging into the pool is to welcome the New Year right from the very first second with a prayer to God to give us strength to face the challenges of life," said Michael Syiem, the man behind the midnight dip.

(Agencies)

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