Anger finds a collective voice
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Raisina Hill was flooded, surrounded and put under siege on Saturday. Thousands of protesters, mostly students, marched down Rajpath to reach the corridors of power, demanding that their voices be heard.
The outrage was evident as protesters called for justice for the 23-year-old paramedic student who was tortured and gangraped by six men on board a chartered bus on December 16.
It was unlike any other protest — there were no leaders and there were no bored faces trying to make sense of the situation. The youth of the city — many had come in from Noida and Gurgaon — braved the police lathis, the force of water cannons and the sting of tear gas shells as they continued to shout "we want justice".
The protesters threw coins at the police personnel guarding the entry to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, implying police works only for money. "Yeh paisa lo, aur phansi do (Take this money and hang them)," the crowd roared. Many also threw bangles at the policemen, mocking them for "inaction".
Police put up a strong resistance, stopping the progress of the protesters. They did not go away, but sat down on the road leading to Rashrapati Bhawan.
Police personnel on duty said protesters kept pouring in through the day. A senior police officer said: "These college students are all marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan. The fact that there are hundreds of journalists is acting as a catalyst in the protest."
A total of 125 tear gas shells were fired by the police to quell the violence unleashed by some unruly protesters. On the roads leading to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, several students wrote hate messages for the Delhi Police.
The protesters also managed to break the first barricade and created a security scare, but were stopped by police. When the protesters started hurling stones and shoes, the the security personnel fired water cannons. The cameras of a few media persons were also damaged by the force of water.
Apart from the four barriers of police security, North Block and South Block were packed with police personnel. All senior officers of Delhi Police had been asked to report at India Gate.
"During the day, the crowd got violent eight times, forcing us to lathicharge. The problem was that each time the group which got violent was different. A constable and an inspector received severe head injuries. We have registered a case of rioting and damage to public property. We will take action after seeking the video grabs from the photo journalists," a police officer said.
The angry protesters damaged the lights at the Vijay Chowk and carried out a mock hanging on a pole outside the North Block office. "Rapists should be hanged in public, which is what we are demonstrating out here," Akash Mehotra, who had come from Civil Lines, said.
Till late Saturday night, hundreds of protesters were still at Raisina Hill. No violence reported after 8 in the evening.