Indian security personnel stand guard on a deserted street during a protest in front of India Gate in New Delhi. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
The Indian government has moved to stamp out protests that
have swelled in New Delhi since the gang-rape of a young
woman, banning gatherings of more than five people, but still
thousands poured into the heart of the capital to vent their
Police used tear gas and batons to hold crowds back from
marching on the president's palace, just as they did the day
before. About 30 to 35 people, including a few policemen,
were being treated at a nearby hospital for injuries, two
The 23-year-old victim of the December 16 attack, who was
beaten, raped for almost an hour and thrown out of a moving
bus in New Delhi, was still in a critical condition on
respiratory support but responding to treatment, doctors
Six men have been arrested for the assault.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's
major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours,
according to police figures.
Most sexual assaults go unreported and unremarked, but the
brutality of last week's attack triggered the biggest
protests in the capital since mid-2011 demonstrations against
corruption that rocked the government of Prime Minister
The protesters, predominantly college students but also
housewives and even children, are demanding more steps from
the authorities to ensure safety for women - particularly
better policing - and some want the death penalty for the
Several metro stations were closed and many roads into the
administrative centre of the city were barricaded on Sunday
to prevent a build-up of protesters.
However, by late afternoon the crowd around the India Gate
monument - normally a festive place on a Sunday - had swollen
to several thousand.
Scuffles broke out near government buildings, where youths
shouted "Down with Delhi police!" and threw bottles at the
forces holding them back. Angry protesters later overturned a
vehicle and seized police vans.
GANDHI GETS FLAK
Since last week's rape, the authorities have promised better
police patrolling to ensure safety for women returning from
work and entertainment districts, the installation of GPS on
public transport vehicles, more buses at night, and
fast-track courts for swift verdicts on cases of rape and
However, that has not been enough to placate protesters in
New Delhi and other cities across the country, where the past
week began with peaceful candle-light vigils and ended with a
spasm of violence in the capital.
Bowing to public pressure, Sonia Gandhi, chief of the ruling
Congress party, emerged from her residence after midnight to
talk to protesters. She went out again on Sunday with her
son, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as a future prime minister.
"She assured us of justice," said one of the students who met
Some others, though, shouted "Down with Sonia Gandhi!" and
accused politicians of indifference to the plight of ordinary
"It's time she (Sonia Gandhi) takes the bull by the horns and
make this country safe for women. Be it better policing or
strongly penalising offenders," said Rukmani Dutta, a
final-year political science student at Delhi University.
Protesters said they would continue to demonstrate until they
get firm assurances from the government.
"Until and unless the government understands the pulse of the
people and imposes strict action against these criminals, we
will not relent," said Sherry Kaur, a student at Indraprastha
University, also in New Delhi.