New Delhi: Police on Sunday evacuated a number of protesters from Raisina Hill and outside Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's residence where they had stayed put since Saturday night to protest against the gangrape of a 23-year-old girl. The protesters, most of them students who spent a chilly night in the open after they fought pitched battles with police throughout the day on Saturday at Raisina Hill, were taken into a bus by police in an early morning operation.
Around 6:30 am, police suddenly moved in buses into the area, made announcements about clamping Section 144 of CrPC prohibiting assembly of more than four persons in the area and herded the protesters into the buses. Most of the 50 protesters at Raisina Hill could not do much as dense fog had hampered visibility. They shouted slogans inside the bus.
Outside Gandhi's residence also, protesters were taken into a bus. Police have been deployed in abundance in Raisina Hill and India Gate anticipating protests throughout the day today being a Sunday.
In a surprise move late Saturday night, Gandhi had came out of her residence and met protesters. According to a person from the crowd, Gandhi told them "I am with you. I can't tell when the justice will be delivered, but surely it will be. We will do something."
When asked for a deadline Gandhi said, "I can't give you a deadline but action will be taken." The detentions came as part of a police plan to contain protests near Raisina Hill, the seat of power. Six metro stations near India Gate and Raisina Hill have already been closed from this morning till further orders. The stations which remained closed were Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhavan, Race Course, Barakhamba and Mandi House.
Refusing to relent, the small group of protesters braved cold and fog to spend the night at the Raisina Hill raising vociferous slogans and stood, some with candles in solidarity with the 23-year-old girl battling for her life. The protesters who started gathering after 11 pm, consisted of mostly young men and women, some accompanied by their parents, middle-aged persons, among others.
"I'm going to spend the whole night here in her support. I, myself have been a victim of harassment by an old man no less. I don't feel safe in the city and therefore I always carry a knife around with me," a graphic designer, who had come from Govindpuri area in South Delhi said.
Couple Seema and Suresh who couldn't answer their 6-year-old daughter when she had asked as to what "darindgi" or devilishness meant, decided to land here and lend full support to the cause. "My 6-year-old daughter after watching TV asked me-'Mommy, what does 'darindgi' mean?'- I did not know how or what to answer," mother Seema said.
Amidst biting weather and misty air, logs of wood and day-time banners served as fuel for the bonfire as protesters sat in circles trying to warm themselves up while shouting 'We want justice' and other slogans, as others soon joined the chorus. Diwakar, a professional, came along with his five other friends from Gurgaon.
"One of our friends just landed in Delhi from Lucknow and he also decided to join us here. Cold night, what cold night? This is nothing compared to what pains the girl went through. My heart weeps for her and I just wanted to be here for her," Diwakar said.
The main entrance to the Rashtrapti Bhavan and the North-South Blocks remained cordoned off as 500-odd security personnel continued to guard the heavily barricaded entrance which the protesters had attempted to storm several times during the day time clashes with the police.
As some protesters left at about 2 am, another group of youngsters from Janakpuri streamed in. They were asked whether their parents allowed them to come? "Allowed, of course they did. We also have sisters and daughters in our family. We want the society to be safer from them and don't want any repeat of this heinous act," the boys from Janakpuri said.