From the Left parties and their student affiliates to the Right wing Bharatiya Janata Party and smaller groups like the Hindu Yuva Vahini and the Aam Aadmi Party, which is gradually making the roads its stage, different groups demanding accountability and rule of law continued with their protests on the streets of the Capital for the third successive day on Sunday.
While the Aam Aadmi Party, which has been at the forefront of the protests that erupted after the brutal rape of a five-year-old in Gandhi Nagar last week, staged protests outside the Prime Minister’s residence and the Delhi Police Headquarters, activists of the Mahila Morcha of the BJP pushed down barricades and jostled with security personnel in an unsuccessful bid to barge into 10 Janpath, the official residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Raising slogans such as “Enough is enough”, a large number of women activists from the BJP who had reached Janpath around noon alleged that the Congress governments in Delhi and the Centre were responsible for the failure of law and order due to which crime against women and minors was on the rise.
The women protesters were later detained, put in a waiting bus and taken to the Parliament Street police station, from where they were later let off.
The volunteers of the Aam Aadmi Party, who had kept an overnight vigil outside the Police Headquarters, were joined by fellow volunteers during the day and their number later swelled into a sizeable crowd. Besides demanding removal of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, the protesters also pressed for setting up of a citizens security force.
The police also distributed pamphlets informing about the actions taken on erring cops in a bid to calm the protesters but the effort was not received well. Several protesters were seen tearing off the pamphlets and rejecting the claims of sincerity being expressed by the police.
While action at the Police Headquarters remained linear throughout the day, some anxious moments were witnessed when Aam Aadmi Party volunteers began moving away from the venue and towards the official residence of the Prime Minister at 7 Race Course Road. The police swung into action and placed barricades on the Indraparstha Road to prevent them from moving ahead.
But despite the barricading and intervention of personnel from the Delhi Police, around 50 volunteers managed to reach Race Course Road. But they were not allowed near the Prime Minister’s residence. They then lay and squatted on the road and shouted slogans. As a preventive measure, the police detained them and took them to the Tughlaq Road police station. During the period, the AAP protesters were gone, the police put up barricades on the roads leading to the Police Headquarters and later the protesters who reached the spot were detained and taken to the IP Estate police station.
Commuters coming from East Delhi faced traffic problems due to the presence of barricades and vehicles were diverted through either Bhairon Marg near Pragati Maidan or Delhi Gate.
But minutes after the barricades were removed, protesting Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union members reached ITO and blocked vehicular traffic and the chaos was perpetuated.
Later in the night, the protesting JNU students left the venue and normal traffic was restored.
While slogans remained the most popular form of conveying the message over the last three days, some outside AIIMS opted for a relatively quieter form of protest: they drew protest messages on the pavements so that their demands were not forgotten in a jiffy.