New Delhi: As thousands of protesters gathered at India Gate and marched towards Rashtrapati Bhawan atop Raisina Hill on Saturday, the police were forced to fire teargas shells and use water cannons against them. The protesters have been demanding justice for the 23-year-old victim of the brutal gangrape and vicious physical assault in a moving bus by a group of men.
A boy and girl and a traffic policeman were injured as the police directed water jets and opened a volley of teargas shells that pushed them back a little even as some of the protesters braved the chill and waterbottles and shoes at the policemen.
Window panes of a police van were smashed. One of the girls broke the glass window of a bus with her hands. The police action came as 'negotiations' failed at the Raisina Hill leading to Rashtrapati Bhawan failed and the protesters, comprising largely young women and men, tried to breach the barricades to push towards the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The protest spot resembled a battle zone with empty shells and wet roads. The area has been cordoned off and police reinforcements have been rushed to the Hill that divides the North and South Block, which houses the Prime Minister's Office. Girl protesters alleged that policemen hit them with lathis and declared they will launch a sit-in in the area.
Protests refused to disperse from the place. As protests continued for the sixth day, former Army Chief VK Singh joined the demonstrators the at India Gate blaming "systemic collapse" for brutal rape of a young girl last Sunday in a moving bus.
An injured girl has been rushed to hospital. The youths gathered at India Gate from early in the morning and marched through Rajpath towards Raisina Hill. The young protesters broke security cordons erected on Rajpath and managed to reach near Raisina Hill where they were stopped. Yesterday too, the capital also several protests including the one in front of Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The former army chief said "You see this problem is because of systemic failure of governance. Police reforms have been lying in cold storage for the last so many years. Why haven't they done anything about it? Why do we have to hear such things from a police commissioner saying that he doesn't have man-power? It is shameful.
"Why do you have to see the spectacle on television where Ministry of Home officials have to go out on the streets checking things? Isn't there a failure? This needs to be addressed. This failure comes because of political and bureaucratic apathy in this country," the former Army chief said.
With additional information from PTI