New Delhi: Protests at Delhi's India Gate against the brutal rape of 23-year-old Amanat (NOT her real name) have turned violent again and are fast acquiring a political hue. Cars have been overturned and people pelted the police with stones, as they attempted to break through security cordons and barricades put up to prevent them from moving towards Rashtrapati Bhavan. The police have had to use tear gas and water cannons every time a new group reaches India Gate and tries to breach security. Prohibitory orders under section 144 were imposed in the area early this morning, but the crowd of protesters has kept growing through the day, forcing the police to allow them in on foot at the base of India Gate.
Here are 10 latest developments:
- Many of the protesters here are students and other citizens holding placards and raising slogans who have gathered to demand action in the brutal gang-rape of the medical student by six men on a moving bus last Sunday. But for the last few hours outfits like the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, a member of which had recently attacked lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, have started to turn up. Yoga teacher Baba Ramdev arrived standing atop a bus filled with his followers. Members of Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party joined the protests too. The youth wings of several political outfits, including the BJP are also there.
- A young woman protestor told NDTV that several unruly people had landed up at the protest site and had attempted to manhandle and harass women. "We tried stopping them. They were using abusive language. When we asked them to back off, they refused. We also requested them not to throw water bottles at the police. There are many of them who are drunk and are eve-teasing. They have come here just to have some fun," she said. (Watch)
- Unruly elements, clearly not regular protesters, overturned cars, vandalised buses, smashing windows and deflating tyres, and blocked traffic. They stopped the car of MP and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's son Sandeep Dikshit and heckled him before he was rescued by cops.
- India Gate is swarming with cops and rapid action force personnel in anti-riot gear. Several cordons of security are in place to stop people from going up to Rashtrapati Bhavan as happened yesterday. The police have told protestors that they can protest only at Ram Lila Maidan - all other protest sites in Delhi are out of bounds. Section 144 has been extended across the 34-km stretch that is New Delhi district. The section prohibits a gathering of more than five people anywhere where it is in operation.
- A little after 6 am today, about 60 protestors who had camped overnight at Vijay Chowk and some outside Mrs Gandhi's residence, were evacuated, put in buses and driven away. But more protesters who had arrived at India Gate refused to budge. They got under buses, and clung to the vehicles and each other as the police tried to carry them away to the buses. Policemen were seen first requesting belligerent protestors to move out.
- A group of five protesters met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and said she had assured them of action in the Delhi gang-rape case. They said they had been asked for their views on what measures new laws on rape and other crimes against women should include. Sources said Mrs Gandhi agreed with them that women need better security and that more needs to be done by the government. Rahul Gandhi joined the meeting and reportedly said they need time and all the changes could not be done in a very short span of time. (Read)
- Minister of state for Home RPN Singh, who too was present at the meeting, said the government would do its best to ensure a day-by-day, fast track trial and maximum punishment for Amanat's rapists and that the students had been assured of that. He said Section 144 had been imposed to make sure that "the young people who are protesting peacefully are not injured because of chaos caused by a handful of people that might try to cause trouble."
- Seven metro stations near India Gate - Patel Chowk, Udyog Bhavan, Race Course, Central Secretariat, Khan Market, Barakhamba Road and Mandi House - have been closed since 6 am today to control crowds in the area, which houses Parliament, the President's home, the Prime Minister's Office and several ministries.
- Yesterday, hundreds of protestors gathered at India Gate and near Rashtrapati Bhawan had grown resentful that nobody from the government chose to address them. A little before 11 am, a group of unruly protesters began running towards Raisina Hill, where several ministries and the Prime Minister's Office are located. When they pushed aside the barricades there, the police used tear-gas and water cannons.
- Six men have been arrested in the gang-rape of the 23-year-old medical student. The sixth accused, who was arrested on Friday, will be produced in front of a juvenile court on Monday. Three of the accused - Ram Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma - have refused the identification parade.