The disconnect between civil society and the Delhi Police was at full play outside India Gate here on Sunday when members of the All-India Students’ Association were barricaded and surrounded menacingly by hundreds of policemen in riot gear while they continued to lambast the cavalier attitude of the cops and their shameful handling of the rape of the five-year-old.
“Just because the little girl was from a poor family they thought they could be bought. They did nothing to help her when she was being tormented but look at them now, standing on one side of the barricade with lathis and weapons of destruction, waiting to pounce on us,” said a member Sucheta De, addressing the gathering.
“One of them hit a woman who was protesting against their apathy, they have only suspended him but we demand that he go to jail, that is where he belongs,” she added, to cries to “Shame to the police,” not just from the AISA members but even from onlookers who were joining the protest. There were also demands from the protesters for resignation of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar. Many of them proclaimed that they would not go off the streets till he would quit. The police successfully prevented members of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union from even reaching the India Gate. Their bus was joined by the police buses as soon as they left the university and when they reached the roundabout at Patiala House they were barricaded. “We took another route and blocked the road around ITO,” said JNUSU president Lenin Kumar.
“It is really shameful when civilians have to tell the law-keepers about Section 166 (public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person.),” said Radhika, another AISA member.
“This is not the first time we are here, post December 16 a lot of talk is going on about how attitudes towards women have to change etc. But if the change does not happen at the level of the law-keepers, who continue to be inefficient and insensitive, then what can be expected from anywhere. The people have lost faith in the police, especially after their shocking behaviour came to light,” said Sunny, another AISA member.
The police presence around India Gate increased late in the afternoon in anticipation of the protests and a large number of Rapid Action Force personnel in blue fatigues joined the men in khaki, many of them in riot gear, around the war memorial, which post the December 16 incident too had become a major rallying point for the protesters.