Gang-rape protests shift to Jantar Mantar


New Delhi, Dec 24 (IANS) 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 with Safety."

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 eraly 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 Women Association.

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 network sites.

"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 traffic jams.




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