Delhi protests take violent turn, 150 injured, policeman critical

FP

Special Commissioner (Law and Order) Dharmendra Kumar blamed "hooligans" for the violence. He said unruly elements had "hijacked" peaceful demonstrations. In its report to the Home Ministry, police said some "vested interests" had joined the protesters and were instigating violence. Cases have been registered against "unknown persons".

At Jantar Mantar, yoga guru Ramdev and former Army chief V K Singh addressed protesters who clashed with police after they were stopped from marching towards India Gate. Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia sat on a dharna near Hyderabad House. BJP youths also took part in the protests.

Unlike Saturday when most protesters were college students, Sunday's crowd comprised people who had come from outside the city, including neighbouring states. While Ramdev was directed to Jantar Mantar and later Ramlila Maidan, police said the protesters did not pay heed and kept moving towards India Gate.

Despite prohibitory orders in place, a few hundred first made their way to India Gate. The numbers swelled and one police estimate later put the crowd strength at over 10,000.

The clashes started around 11 am and continued till late evening. Protesters hurled stones at police and broke barricades in a bid to head towards Rashtrapati Bhavan. Police said 12 DTC buses and as many PCR vans were damaged. A Doordarshan vehicle was also attacked.

Police resorted to lathicharge at least ten times and lobbed 250 teargas shells apart from using water cannons. TV crews said water cannons were also directed at them to stop live coverage. Many said their cameras had been damaged.

Chased away from the India Gate lawns, protesters targeted bystanders and damaged buses and cars along the way, using barricade poles as weapons.

Late on Sunday night, Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury went to India Gate to persuade protesters to leave the spot, but her efforts failed. This was the first time a Congress leader came to India Gate to engage with the protesters.

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