New Delhi: Mass
protests for the third straight day Sunday against the gang-rape
of a young woman turned violent here, leaving scores injured,
including one policeman in critical condition, and turning the
India Gate area into a virtual war zone.
Police and paramilitary personnel liberally used batons and tear
gas to chase away thousands after the emotionally charged protests
during the day descended into chaos by evening.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there was "genuine and
justified anger and anguish at this ghastly incident" but appealed
for calm and assured that "all possible efforts" would be taken to
ensure security and safety of women in the country.
"I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm,"
he said, according to a tweet by the Prime Minister's Office.
The 23-year-old victim was Sunday put back on the ventilator and
her condition remains critical, though she is conscious and
communicating, doctors said. Her platelet condition has dipped
further - an indication of infection, the doctors said.
The protests, largely by students, saw hooligan elements mingled
in the crowd uproot wooden poles erected for the Jan 26 Republic
Day event and set them afire at five places.
They upturned vehicles, smashed window panes of buses and other
vehicles and also hurled stones and water bottles on policemen in
response to tear gas and baton attacks to prevent protesters from
marching towards Raisina Hills, where prohibitory orders were put
By night, roads in the area were littered with sandals, shoes,
books, hand-held banners, bags and water bottles, left behind by
those who fled the protest site in panic due to the baton charge.
Special Commissioner of Police Dharmendra Kumar urged all
protesters to head home as security forces cleared street after
street once darkness set in.
"The movement has been taken over by hooligans," he said. "We want
people to go home so that we can isolate the hooligans."
Although a large number dispersed from the area, which includes
the stately Hyderabad House which Russian President Vladimir Putin
would visit Monday, a few hundred remained rooted near India Gate,
a World War I monument flanked by lush green lawns.
A police constable was seriously injured in the stoning. Delhi
Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said it was "unfortunate" that
police had to use force against the protesters but the situation
warranted the action.
As many as 143 people, including 78 police personnel, were injured
at India Gate.
Two of the Dec 16 gang-rape accused told a Delhi court once again
that they had committed a horrible crime and "deserved to be
hanged". They, however, refused to undergo an identification
Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar sent accused Pawan Gupta, 19,
a fruit seller, Vinay Sharma, 20, an assistant gym instructor, and
Ram Singh, the bus driver, to 14 days judicial custody, after
police said that custodial interrogation was not required.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj urged the government
to call a meeting of all political parties to discuss the rape.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit appealed for calm and said
providing security to public should take precedence over VIP
"I want to emphasise, even if there is need to cut VIP security,
it should be done," Dikshit told reporters after a meeting with
union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi told a group of men and women --
her second meeting with protesters -- that the rapists would be
tried quickly and also charged with attempt to murder.
Sunday's protests also drew political activists. But most appeared
to be people with no particular affiliation.
Amid all this, yoga guru Ramdev reached the Jantar Mantar protest
site also in the city
centre standing atop a bus. Later, many of his supporters made
their way to India Gate shouting slogans.
He demanded death sentence for the Dec 16 rapists.
Earlier in the day, thousands of young men and women engulfed the
India Gate area shouting "We want justice!" and demanding death to
the five men and a young adult who raped the woman.
Pallavi, a 25-year-old working for a multinational, told IANS:
"The government is sleeping... The law against rape must be
stronger and should be implemented properly."
To prevent a repeat of Saturday's events when people tried to
march to Rashtrapati Bhavan, police barricaded all the roads
leading to the place and government offices close by including the
Prime Minister's Office.
Prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more people
A large crowd also gathered outside the Safdarjung Hospital in
solidarity with the rape victim.