New Delhi: Even as
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm, hundreds of
people, including school children, gathered in the city centre
Monday demanding justice for the gang-rape victim and ensuring the
safety of women.
Shouting "We Want Justice", hundreds of people, mainly the young
and the middle-aged, massed near the Jantar Mantar monument,
watched by policemen and paramilitary personnel, who had
barricaded the entire area.
Holding placards, cloth banners and waving their fists in the air,
the young and the old denounced the Dec 16 rape and raised slogans
"Women want freedom", "Rapists should be crushed" and "Justice
Protesters who spoke to IANS said that they are not convinced by
prime minister's assurance of government providing security and
safety of women.
"Am not assured … it is just a lip service and it won't work
anymore. We want them to take action and show us on ground what
are they doing," said Abhijit Sinha, a DU student, who also took
part in India Gate protest.
They made it clear that they wanted to demonstrate peacefully and
did not want any repeat of the violence which left a large number
of policemen and protesters injured Sunday.
Since early morning, police and paramilitary personnel laid siege
to areas all around India Gate, where hundreds indulged in
violence while seeking death to the rapists of the 23-year-old now
battling for life.
The 2.5 km stretch between India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan was
barricaded for traffic. This was also done keeping Russian
President Vladimir Putin visit to Prime MInister Manmohan Singh's
Race Course Road residence in the morning and then for a series of
meetings at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Even journalists were denied access to India Gate, a World War I
monument in the heart of the capital.
Pushed out of the India Gate protest site, protesters then moved
to Jantar Mantar, the 18th century astronomical observatory, which
has now become a popular protest site.
The crowds at Jantar Mantar -- swelling by the hour -- included
school and college students, people from the neighbourhood, and
members of women's groups and NGOs.
Protestors also condemned the government's move to shut nine Delhi
Metro stations to stop them from coming to India Gate.
"Metro is a public property and government has no right to stop
its services. Prime minister has made very hollow assurances and
we will continue with our protests till any concrete steps are not
taken," said Kavitha Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive
She demanded that government should call a special session of
parliament and talk on sexual assault bill, honour crime and
police accountability issues.
Some protestors said they are spreading the word by talking to
people in buses and metros to come and join the protest. Many said
they have come to the protest site after messages on the social
"We want justice and safety of women. Government should make such
strict laws that its acts as a deterrent," said Kanika, a medical
student from Rohtak.
IT professional Abhay Raj said he disapproved of the stone-pelting
and violence of Sunday. "We're here to protest non-violently."
"Government is not taking any concrete decisions to ensure safety
of women. Let them first take any decision on how will they ensure
security of women and after that we will stop protesting," said
Viji Ravindran, a housewife.
Government employees entering Rail Bhavan, Udhyog Bhavan and other
offices close to the India Gate lawns were given entry only if
they showed their identity cards.
The police barricading of the city centre and the cancellation of
services by Delhi Metro to nine major stations led to major