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By 2 pm on Saturday, the crowd of protesters at Jantar Mantar, demanding justice and shouting slogans in support of the 23-year-old gangrape victim who had died in Singapore earlier in the day, had swelled to 500.
With India Gate and Raisina Hill cordoned off, protesters started trickling in to Jantar Mantar from 9 in the morning, peacefully mourning the death of the woman who had waged a courageous battle to stay alive over the past two weeks. Their anguish and ire found voice in placards and scattered slogans.
Around 2.15 pm, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit made her entrance, and there was pandemonium.
The moment she was spotted by people who had perched themselves on a Delhi Jal Board water tanker, cries of "Sheila Dikshit go back" rent the air. Almost everyone present at the protest venue at the time — journalists, police personnel and protesters — converged on her. With the police forming a tight ring around her, she tried to move towards the centre of the venue. But about 10 metres was all Sheila was allowed to traverse. The crowd, for the first time on Saturday, was unanimous and united. As one, they heckled the Delhi Chief Minister.
The irate crowd, jostling each other and the police cordon around her, forced Sheila to retreat.
In the 10 minutes that she was there, Sheila lit a candle next to a tree and told mediapersons, "I have come to pay my respects to the victim."
For half an hour after she left, people continued to shout slogans against her and rejoiced in their "victory".
Sahil Singh, a DU student, said, "She didn't come out last week when assurances would have helped. It was in a city administered by her government that this heinous crime happened. She has no place here. We want politicians to stay away from this."