New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) Outrage at the rape of a five-year-old in Delhi spilled onto the capital’s streets Sunday as scores of angry protestors stormed the barricades outside the residences of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The protests that started early morning took on political overtones towards evening.
Demonstrators held rallies, squatted on the streets, scuffled with policemen and shouted slogans at many places in the capital over the rising number of rapes and demanded more and better security for women.
Since morning, scores converged outside the police headquarters at the busy ITO intersection and many sat on vigil outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as the anger swelled up among the people over the horrific rape and barbaric torture of the small girl, who doctors said Sunday was out of danger. The victim, the daughter of a poor labourer, is being treated at AIIMS.
Most of the protestors at the ITO and the Prime Minister’s House at 7, Race Course Road, were from Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Those protesting at Sonia Gandhi’s official residence, 10 Janpath, were from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
When police tried to stop them from entering the police headquarters in the heart of the capital, the demonstrators squatted on the busy thoroughfare, causing a traffic jam. The police also distributed pamphlets to them to maintain calm, but the pamphlets were torn off and thrown away.
The girl’s alleged attacker, Manoj Kumar, 22, who is in police custody, claimed that a second person was involved in the April 15 rape in east Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar. But police have denied it.
Security forces were taken by surprise Sunday when hundreds of BJP women activists marched to Sonia Gandhi’s residence, shouting slogans “Enough is enough!” and “Save the girl!”, and broke two barricades.
When they attempted to break down a third barricade, the police forcibly bundled them into a waiting bus and took them to the Parliament Street police station where they were let off. Over 100 BJP activists were detained.
BJP’s women activists alleged they were hit by police, but the charge was denied by the police.
“We have not hit any of the women; no one was injured by the police action,” Deputy Commissioner of Police S.B.S. Tyagi told IANS.
The women kept raising slogans all the while against the barbaric rape that has shocked the country and shamed the city.
In the evening, around 100 supporters of AAP gathered outside 7, Race Course, the Prime Minister’s Residence. The police detained around 40 protestors and took them to the Tughlaq Road police station.
As the sun set, many more came out on the streets.
Hundreds of members of Left students unions and women’s organisations gathered near India Gate despite the prohibitory orders in place, banning any gathering of four or people. “We tried to march from JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) to India Gate, but the police stopped us at Udyog Bhavan,” said a member of All India Students Association (AISA).
To avoid a repeat of the Dec 16 violent protests around India Gate, a huge force of policemen has been stationed in and around the War Memorial. The Rapid Action Force personnel are also deployed in the area as a precautionary measure.
The activists, mostly women, squatted and raised slogans when the police stopped them from marching to India Gate.
Protestors outside the police headquarters, mostly AAP members, had to be forcibly removed when they refused to budge. Many of them took out a march from the police headquarters at ITO to India Gate, throwing traffic out of gear.
At AIIMS, where the victim is warded, crowds were on the main road outside, raising slogans demanding death to the rapist.
Police have barricaded the main entrance to the hospital to enable easy entry and exit for patients and ambulances.
Doctors earlier removed pieces of candle and a plastic bottle from the girl’s vaginal orifice. A doctor treating her admitted he had never before witnessed such brutality committed on a child.