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A massive protest erupted at the power centre of the country's capital on Saturday as hordes of angry youth clashed with police, demanding better security for women in Delhi in the aftermath of the gangrape of a 23-year-old woman last week.
The protestors, estimated at between 10,000 and 12,000 by the police, were lathicharged at least eight times through the day. About 125 tear gas shells were fired and water cannons also used to disperse them as they tried to barge into Rashtrapati Bhawan to meet the President.
About 35 protestors and 37 policemen, including two DCPs, were injured in the violence. One Delhi Police constable and one RPF inspector suffered serious head injuries. Six buses, two motorcycles and two other vehicles belonging to the police and DTC were damaged.
A case of rioting and destruction of public property is being registered and action will be taken against protestors identified through media footage, police said.
Late in the night, Congress president Sonia Gandhi met some protestors outside her residence and assured them that steps would be taken to boost the safety of women. She also said a change in the mindset of society was needed to tackle the problem.
In the morning, the protest started at around 9 am when some 100 young men and women, mostly students, began marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan. At around the same time, former Army chief V K Singh also held a protest march at India Gate. Representatives of the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, Bharat Swabhiman Trust and student unions such as SFI and AISA also joined the demonstration. But they were all stopped by police who had a four-tier security ring in place on Rajpath.
At around 11 am, when a group of protestors turned violent and broke a barricade, police advised them to remain calm and peaceful. However, the protestors did not pay heed and continued to march towards Rashtrapati Bhawan.