From streets to Raisina Hill, call for justice grows for rape victim
Seething with anger, hundreds
of people Friday took to the streets with banners, shouting slogans and
waving their fists in the air, demanding justice for the 23-year-old
woman who was brutally gang-raped Sunday night and is battling for life.
As tempers flew high, women activists and students tried to enter the high-security Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace on Raisina Hill, but were stopped by securitymen. But it didn't stop the hundreds of protesters from trying again.
Towards Friday evening, protesters reached Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence and held a candlelight vigil demanding justice for the victim and her male friend who was with her when she was raped by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi.
Shouting "We want justice", hundreds of women banged at the iron gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan to gain entry.
"We started our march from Rail Bhavan and reached Vijay Chowk. We moved towards Rashtrapati Bhavan through South and North Blocks, but police stopped us," Annie Raja of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) told reporters.
The women made another attempt to march towards the Raisina Hill from India Gate -- a distance of about 2.5 km -- and blocked traffic at Vijay Chowk. They were detained and taken to Mandir Marg police station.
Police said about 250 protesters tried to force their way into Rashtrapati Bhavan but were diverted back to India Gate, the memorial to the unknown soldier.
Swati, a student, managed to slip past the gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan, but was turned back by policemen.
"They do nothing to protect us, and when we want justice, they say we need permission to enter the president's house. Such a heinous crime has occurred, and they expect us to seek permission to protest," an agitated Swati said.
The anger found resonance across the city as men and women, old and young, gathered at Safdarjung Hospital in south Delhi since early morning where the woman is undergoing treatment and continues to be in critical condition.
By evening, the numbers at Jantar Mantar and India Gate swelled to thousands as protesters waved Indian flags and continued sloganeering. Women sporting black bands on their foreheads, demanded strict punishment for the rapists. Some even demanded death for them to deter such incidents.
Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University organised street plays and street painting at India Gate to voice their anger.
Left party leaders also joined the protest at India Gate with Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja calling for stringent laws.
Another group, under the aegis of the newly-launched Aam Aadmi Party, held a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi. Its leader Arvind Kejriwal said: "Laws are weak. There should be strong laws so trials and convictions happen in two months. It is not about capital punishment but swiftness and certainty of punishment."
He was evicted by police from Jantar Mantar in the evening.
Safdarjung Hospital has also been a protest site for the last four days where crowds have been lighting candles and praying for the victim's life.
Many school girls holding placards and shouting slogans marched towards the hospital.
"We took out a march to Safdarjung Hospital to show that she is not alone. We all are fighting for her. We are shocked and scared to live in the city. We want to know what the Delhi government is doing. It is a shame," said Anubhuti Singh, a Class 9 student of a government school in Green Park.
A peace walk was organised by Jamia Millia Islamia students to support the victim, pledging "zero tolerance towards sexual violence".
Protests were also reported from other cities in the country, with people blocking roads and taking out marches.
Delhi Police have arrested all the six accused.