Protests outside police headquarters, AIIMS, Home Minister’s residence
From a small group protesting at an East Delhi hospital a day before, the outrage against the rape of the five-year-old girl on Saturday branched out into a series of relay protests across prominent locations such as the Police Headquarters at ITO, Union Home Minister’s residence at Krishna Menon Marg and even Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s residence at 10 Janpath.
Other locations where protesters from various political parties, students’ groups and social organisations descended to give vent to their anger included the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, where the victim is recuperating, and outside the Gandhi Nagar police station.
The epicentre of Saturday’s demonstrations was, however, the Delhi Police Headquarters where a large number of people from varied backgrounds assembled to protest against police apathy in the case and to demand resignation of the Police Commissioner. Prominent among them were volunteers of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the Students’ Federation of India, the All India Progressive Women’s Association and the Aam Aadmi Party.
The Aam Aadmi Party also staged a protest at Swami Dayanand Hospital, where the victim was being treated before she was shifted to AIIMS. On Saturday, however, senior party leaders stayed away from the agitation.
Neither the arrest of the accused nor the improvement in the victim’s health could pacify the enraged demonstrators who carried placards and posters and shouted slogans against the police and the Government. They continued to push the police and even tried to break the barricades.
Outside the 2 Krishna Menon Marg residence of Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, the protesters faced a heavy security entourage as a large number of police personnel were deployed anticipating their arrival as barely 10 days ago Jat protesters had barged into the premises. Barricades were put on both the entry points to Krishna Menon Marg.
Around 2-30 p.m., another small group of protesters made a vain bid to reach his residence through the Tees January Marg. But when they could not succeed, they staged a sit-in demonstration.
After a brief hiatus of around 40 minutes, a bigger and more aggressive group of protesters, most of them AAP volunteers, arrived from the other direction facing Akbar Road. While a smaller group engaged the police, others pushed and removed the barricades. They jostled with the police in an attempt to gain entry into the Minister’s house. The police used mild force to disperse them and some volunteers claimed they received injuries. They finally dispersed after being allowed to submit a memorandum regarding their demands to the Home Minister’s staff.
With the protesters descending on Lutyens’ Delhi in large numbers, acting pro-actively the police got the roads and India Gate lawns vacated. By around 3-30 p.m., the area, which had witnessed violence after the December 16 gang-rape incident, had been cleared and prohibitory orders were imposed in its vicinity.
Protesters outside AIIMS occupied a portion of Ring Road which restricted traffic movement and some of them even crossed over to the other side in the afternoon. Braving scorching sun, the protesters continued to demand resignation of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar.
Outside Gandhi Nagar police station too, the demonstrators protested against the police apathy by burning tyres. The police accused them of indulging in violence.
A small group of protesters also raised slogans outside the 10 Janpath residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.