When Delhi erupted in rage

HT Correspondent

New Delhi, Dec. 23 -- Six days after the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, thousands of irate Delhiites braved water cannons, tear gas shells and baton charge at Vijay Chowk on Sunday demanding justice for the victim amidst impassioned pleas of 'hang the rapists'.

Outraged at the inhuman gangrape on December 16 and lethargic police action, the demonstrators - comprising largely young college and school students - had started gathering at India Gate and Vijay Chowk since morning.

The police had barricaded Vijay Chowk from all sides and especially stationed their vans and water cannon vehicles on the western side leading to Rashtrapati Bhawan. All roads leading to Rajpath too were closed for vehicular movement except the India Gate C hexagon.

Around noon, the crowd spilled over with several protesters climbing on the ornamental lampposts with placards. Much to the chagrin of the protesters, police used cane charge and water cannons to disperse them. Scores of people were injured in the ensuing melee when teargas shells were lobbed.

"Why tear gas shells? Why should they use canes? Are we terrorists? Rather than calling all the police here, why don't they go and stop crime?" asked a visibly angry Arunima Gupta, a first-year DU student.

Pooja Arora came in with her two daughters, aged 11 and 14.

"I am here because I want a safe future for my daughters," she said. There was chaos in the evening around 5.30 pm when police, in an attempt to push people away from Vijay Chowk, used canes and batons.

Ram Manohar Lohia hospital officials said around 30 youngsters were brought after they sustained bruises, cuts and sprains. According to police, 37 police personnel were also injured.

Fearing more people taking the Metro to reach Rajpath and Vijay Chowk to show solidarity with the rape victim on Sunday, the government has directed Delhi Metro to close exit and entry points of four stations - Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan and Race Course -till further orders.

Political activists from Left parties and those from Aam Admi Party too thronged the venue.

A candle light vigil and a mashal march were carried out at India Gate and Vijay Chowk in the evening.

A continuous feature through the day was catchy slogans and messages on placards.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.