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HindustanTimes Mon,20 Oct 2014

Quieter protests with street plays, songs and placards

Ritam Halder and Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 25, 2012
First Published: 00:45 IST(25/12/2012) | Last Updated: 00:49 IST(25/12/2012)

A day after violent protests seeking justice for the 23-year-old gangrape survivor rocked the Capital, protesters — though fewer — shifted base to Jantar Mantar after the police cordoned off other areas.

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The protests on Monday were peaceful and unlike the outpourings over the weekend. Various student and social organisations staged street plays, flashing placards, singing and shouting slogans amid tight police deployment. The protesters, however, made it clear that they would continue the agitation at Jantar Mantar till a special session of Parliament is convened to amend rape laws.

Some of the protesters who tried to march towards India Gate, one of the epicentres of Sunday’s clashes, were intercepted by the police and were diverted to Jantar Mantar. Protesters said they wanted to demonstrate peacefully and did not want a repeat of the violence which had left a large number of policemen and protesters injured.

Anand Singh, a 24-year-old employee of a cell phone service provider, reported in sick and turned up for the protests. “I’ve sent messages to everyone I know about this gathering and some of them have come too. We have no agenda, just a plea for justice,” Singh said.

Ravi Prakash, a former general secretary of the JNU Students’ Union, said, “A special session of Parliament should be called to amend rape laws. There is nothing concrete in whatever the government is saying.”

Rohit Chahal’s right hand injured in Sunday’s clashes, but the state secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad shouted slogans along with 10 others in a corner of Jantar Mantar. “The government is scared. The Prime Minister was supposed to have a meeting with foreign dignitaries near India Gate but he too is so scared that it (the meet) is taking place at his residence. The protest won't stop till justice is done and concrete steps are taken by the government,” he said.

Aadesh Jha, a 26-year-old businessman, led a jovial sit-in. “We don’t belong to any organisation. A group on Facebook has brought all of us together. We co-ordinated with people on Sunday and they have all come here,” he said.

All India Progressive Women’s Association leader Kavita Krishnan said, “People spontaneously stepped out of their homes for a cause. I know a few students preparing for CA who stepped out as well.”

The 150 people injured in violent protests were taken to RML hospital. One of them is said to be critical.


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