Anti-rape protests rage on in Delhi

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) Protests against the rape of a five-year-old here continued Monday with several women groups, student organisations as well as political parties coming together on the same platform and demanding strict measures to ensure women’s safety.

Holding banners and placards, the protestors demanded the resignation of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. They also criticised Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Members of the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took out a march to Parliament but were stopped at Pandit Pant Marg – about two kilometres away.

“Some 200 protestors were detained as they tried to break down the barricades on the road leading to Parliament House,” said a police officer.

Members of “16 Dec Kranti”, a group of youngsters, especially students, who are protesting at Jantar Mantar since Dec 22 following the gruesome gang-rape of a young woman in the capital, gathered outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where the traumatised girl is hospitalised.

Activists of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were also present at the AIIMS.

Several women’s groups and student organisations like Students Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students’ Association (AISA) jointly held a protest at Jantar Mantar while some women groups held protests outside Delhi Police headquarters.

“The police chief should resign as the repeated rapes in the Delhi prove that he is not fit for the job. We’ve had enough. Feeling secure and safe is our right and we will have it,” Rashpal Kaur, Delhi state secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), told IANS.

Apart from NFIW, other organisations that were protesting at Jantar Mantar were All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and student organisations like Student Federation of India (SFI) and All India students Association (AISA).

“The government has to answer… These are sad state of affairs in the capital city of the country. Those who are responsible for protecting us have failed and they should step down,” AIDWA vice president Maimoona Mollah told IANS.

The protestors together broke down barricades put up by the police to thwart their march towards the Parliament House. The police also stationed water cannons as a precautionary measure, in case the protests turned violent.

There was also heavy deployment of police at India Gate, the scene of major protests following the Dec 16 gang-rape.

Three Metro stations in central Delhi were closed as a precautionary step.

The Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhavan and Race Course Road Metro stations were closed around 10.15 a.m. as a precautionary measure.

“We have been asked by Delhi Police to close the Metro stations till further notice as a precautionary measure,” said a Delhi Metro spokesperson.

Scores of angry protestors Sunday stormed the barricades outside the residences of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Many of them were detained briefly and let off later.

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