Violent protests in Delhi over gangrape, Shinde briefs PM
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today on the gangrape of 23-year-old woman in Delhi. PM has reportedly told Shinde to ensure that there is sense of security in Delhi. Cops lathi-charge protesters outside Raisina Hillsdelhi Updated: Dec 24, 2012 12:27 IST
Home minister SushilKumar Shinde briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday on the gangrape of 23-year-old woman in Delhi. PM has reportedly told Shinde to ensure that there is sense of security in Delhi and all steps are taken to see there is no recurrence of such incidents.
Earlier on Saturday, intensifying thier protests, hundreds of them turned violent and water cannons and tear gas were used by police to disperse them at Raisina Hill, close to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Police resorted to lathi charge as angry protestors clashed with them at Raisina Hill.
Television footage showed protesters shouting "We want justice" as police struggled to control the crowd who were smashing flower pots and other symbols of the capital's beautification drive.
Police fired teargas shells and used water cannons as several hundreds of young students on Saturday marched towards Rashtrapati Bhavan for the second day demanding justice for the 23-year-old gangrape victim.
Six unruly protestors werer reportedly arrested from India Gate.
A boy and a girl and a traffic policeman were injured as the police directed water jets and opened a volley of teargas shells that pushed them back a little even as some of the protesters braved the chill and waterbottles and shoes at the policemen.
Window panes of a police van were smashed. One of the girls broke the glass window of a bus with her hands.
The police action came as 'negotiations' failed at the Raisina Hill leading to Rashtrapati Bhawan failed and the protesters, comprising largely young women and men, tried to breach the barricades to push towards the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The protest spot resembled a battle zone with empty shells and wet roads. The area has been cordoned off and police reinforcements have been rushed to the Hill that divides the North and South Block, which houses the Prime Minister's Office.
Girl protesters alleged that policemen hit them with lathis and declared they will launch a sit-in in the area. Protests refused to disperse from the place.
Student from schools and colleges, members of various organisations, housewives, professionals, young, old, men, women - people from all walks of life have been rallying for quick justice for the women.
Hundreds of young students on Saturday marched towards Rashtrapati Bhavan as protests demanding justice for the 23-year-old gangrape victim continued for the sixth day, with former Army Chief V K Singh joining the protesters at India Gate.
The youths gathered at India Gate this morning and marched through Rajpath towards Raisina Hills where Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister's Office and Home Ministry are located.
The students broke security cordons erected on Rajpath and managed to reach near Raisina Hills where they were stopped.
"You see this problem is because of systemic failure of governance. Police reforms have been lying in cold storage for the last so many years. Why haven't they done anything about it? Why do we have to hear such things from a police commissioner saying that he doesn't have man-power? It is shameful," Singh said.
"Why do you have to see the spectacle on television where Ministry of Home officials have to go out on the streets checking things? Isn't there a failure? This needs to be addressed. This failure comes because of political and bureaucratic apathy in this country," the former Army chief said.
On Friday hundreds of people took to the streets with banners, shouting slogans and waving their fists in the air, demanding justice for the 23-year-old woman who was brutally gang-raped Sunday night and is battling for life.
As tempers flew high, women activists and students tried to enter the high-security Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace on Raisina Hill, but were stopped by securitymen. But it didn't stop the hundreds of protesters from trying again.
Towards Friday evening, protesters reached Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence and held a candlelight vigil demanding justice for the victim and her male friend who was with her when she was raped by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi.
Shouting "We want justice", hundreds of women banged at the iron gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan to gain entry.
Government appeals for calm
The government appealed for calm as outrage over the attack on the woman intensified.
"This is not a way to protest. Trying to storm buildings and breaking barricades is not a way to start a dialogue," junior home minister RPN Singh told India's CNN-IBN television network.
"The government is trying to do whatever it can to take measures and make sure that women are safe in the country."
India's government, facing growing protests over the gangrape, vowed on Friday to press for life sentences for the woman's six attackers and promised stricter policing.
The government also said it would pay the medical bills of the 23-year-old victim, who suffered serious intestinal injuries in the attack last Sunday night.
Sheila Dikshit hates 'rape capital' on Delhi
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday termed the "horrific assault" on the 23-year-old girl as "most painful" incident for her since she assumed the top post in the capital and said she personally favoured death penalty for rapists.
She said she hated Delhi being called "rape capital" of India and stressed that "something concrete" must be done to instill confidence among women in the city against the growing fear of insecurity.
"Yes, personally I favour that (death penalty) for rapists. We must ensure stringent punishment for perpetrators of such henious crime so that it acts as a deterrent," Dikshit told reporters in New Delhi when asked whether she personally supported gallows for rape convicts.
Justifying the spontaneous protest across the city following the gangrape of the para-medical student in New Delhi on Sunday, Dikshit said her government was ready to take her abroad for better treatment.
Dikshit said maintaining law and order in the city was responsibility of the Delhi Police Commissioner and Lt governor and that the Delhi government did not have any authority over the police.
"The Delhi government does not have any authority over the police. We have been demanding that certain aspect of policing be handed over to the Delhi government...I feel my hands are tied," she said.
The chief minister said there will be no politicking on the issue and as all concerned must respect the sentiments of the people and do everything possible to restore public confidence.
Dikshit said the government plans to bring a stringent law to curb sexual assault on women and requested Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh to prepare a draft bill.
She said all stakeholders would be consulted before finalising the proposed legislation.
Dikshit said the round-the-clock control room for women in distress will function from her office at Delhi Secretariat and will have dedicated phone number. The control room will be commissioned within next 10 days.
"I am shocked at the way she was assaulted. It is really horrifying. We are ready to take her to any part of the world for better treatment. She is in a very critical condition. It is the most painful incident that has taken place since I became chief minister of Delhi," she said.
"We cannot compensate the suffering of the young brave girl. But, we will do everything possible to save her life," Dikshit said.
Sixth accused arrested
The Delhi Police on Friday arrested Akshay Thakur, the sixth accused in the gangrape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old woman, from Aurangabad in Bihar.
Thakur was arrested by a special team of Delhi Police after several raids were conducted at different locations in Bihar.
"Since Tuesday, a special team of Delhi Police was conducting raids in Bihar. The last absconding accused Akshay Thakur was arrested from Bihar's Aurangabad Friday evening," said a police officer.
According to the officer, the accused is being brought to Delhi.
Four other accused were arrested Monday and Tuesday while the fifth accused, who is claiming to be a juvenile, was apprehended on Thursday night.
The fifth accused, who claims to be 17 years old, was detained in a late night raid Thursday from Uttar Pradesh's Badaun by a special team of Delhi Police.
Since he claims to be a minor, police refused to divulge his details.
"He will be taken to a juvenile justice home after confirmation that he is a minor," said the officer.