The Delhi Police has registered cases against former Army Chief VK Singh and yoga teacher Baba Ramdev, accusing them of provoking protesters at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi yesterday during protests against the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student. The police have also registered three cases of rioting and an attempt to murder case for injuries caused to constable Subhash Tomar, who is in hospital in a critical condition.
The police action comes after protesters led by Baba Ramdev and General Singh clashed with the police at Jantar Mantar yesterday, when they were prevented from marching towards India Gate, the epicentre of protests against the gang-rape of a medical student last week. The leaders had made speeches before the incident.
The Delhi Police, under immense pressure to show quick action, has said it will file a chargesheet in a week on the brutal rape of the 23-year-old medical student, Amanat (NOT her real name), in a moving bus by six men. All the accused are now in custody.
The government has also said that a judicial panel, formed to look into reviewing laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in sexual assault cases, will submit its recommendations in a month's time. "A parliament session will be convened when a law is ready to be passed, after Justice Verma's committee's recommendations," said RPN Singh, Minister of State, Home Affairs.
Amanat, meanwhile, continues to be critical with doctors saying that the 23-year-old is "very serious...and still not out of danger." She is "relatively composed", though, despite her fragile condition, they say.
Monday morning began with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the nation and appealing for calm. In a short televised address, Dr Singh said, "As a father of three daughters, I feel as strongly as you," but emphasised that violence would serve no purpose.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told NDTV that the protesters' bid to march to Rashtrapati Bhavan wasn't right. He, however, added that his government is not opposed to peaceful protests. "We assure the public that the guilty will be punished...We have met the agitators. Government can't go to India Gate...it's one and the same thing," he added.
The main opposition party, the BJP, has said the PM's response today was inadequate and has asked for an all-party meeting on the issue. It said it would also meet the President tomorrow. There has been huge criticism of the government for failing to reach out to thousands of young students leading the movement for tougher anti-rape laws and better security for women in the capital.
Delhi saw major traffic jams on several arterial roads today because of restrictions on movement in the area around India Gate, the site of clashes between the police and protesters over the weekend. All roads leading into India Gate hexagon have been closed since early this morning. Nine Metro stations in the area are also closed, causing much inconvenience to office-goers on a working Monday. Traffic snarls were reported on major roads around Pragati Maidan, the Nizamuddin Bridge, Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri, Mother Teresa Cresent Road, Mathura Road, Khan Market, Mandi House and Barakhamba Road and other sections that link into the India Gate roads.
Delhi's Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Tejinder Khanna cut short a vacation to the US and returned to the capital last night. As L-G, Mr Khanna controls the Delhi Police and his absence through a week of law and order crisis in the Capital has been slammed, not least by Delhi Chief Minster Sheila Dikshit who had demanded that he be summoned back. At the core lies an old Delhi government complaint that law and order in the city is not under its control.