A young woman dies, a nation mourns
People hold banners to seek capital punishment for the rapists as they gather to mourn the death of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim, in New Delhi on Saturday. | AP
In this file photo people display placards during a silent march against Delhi gang-rape case in Mumbai. | PTI
The Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore where the 23-year-old girl was admitted on Thursday morning. | AP

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student who was gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi on December 16 died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital here in the early hours of Saturday. The body arrived in Delhi in the early hours of Sunday.

For the past one week, as her life hung in the balance, millions across India prayed for her recovery. In several cities, notably Delhi, thousands took to the streets, demanding justice. News of the young woman's death came early morning and was met with sadness, disbelief and anger.

A swollen brain — a condition called cerebral oedema that in her case was caused by cardiac arrest — doused her fighting spirit, and the end came at 4.45 a.m. Singapore time (2.15 a.m. IST).

As her condition deteriorated rapidly from Friday evening, members of her family, representatives of the Indian High Commission, and a panel of top medical experts were at the hospital.

Doctors said cerebral oedema damages and kills brain cells, leading to multiple organ failure. Dr. Kelvin Loh, CEO of the hospital, said in a statement: “She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome.”

The woman was flown to Singapore on Wednesday for admission to this hospital known for organ transplant. While the government said the decision to shift her to Singapore was taken after consultations with a team of doctors on what would be best for the patient medically, doctors consulted by the government told The Hindu that they were only asked whether the patient was fit to be airlifted — not whether the move was medically advisable.

All through Friday, Singaporeans — be they Indians, Chinese or Malays — kept enquiring about her health, and special prayers were offered. When news of her death broke, people offered condolences to the family. Messages kept pouring into the High Commission.

High Commissioner T.C.A. Raghavan said: “She put up a very brave and courageous fight for survival. From the time a decision was taken to fly her to Singapore…, the High Commission facilitated the arrangements. We are deeply saddened by her death.”

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