In the chaos, some orderly protests as well
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Just an hour after Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dharmendra Kumar appealed for calm and peace, police cracked down after unruly elements from the crowd hurled stones at them. And they retaliated with a lathicharge.
Police claimed 250 tear gas shells were fired during to prevent protesters from marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Around noon, a vehicle parked on the India Gate lawns was damaged by the protesters. While the violent protests were on, some continued with a peaceful dharna. A women's group from a village in Noida was chanting bhajans for the security of women. Small groups of protesters dotted the India Gate lawns.
Prohibitory orders imposed in the area did not help as protesters marched to India Gate and then towards Rashtrapati Bhawan. All roads leading to India Gate were closed. PCR vehicles were parked at the C-Hexagon to block traffic. But the preparations did not seem enough.
Police claimed that violent protesters had "hijacked" the peaceful demonstrations.
"Look at these hooligans, they have crushed a government vehicle and are starting a fire near it. They have broken the metal grills and are hurling its pieces at us. Not just stones, they are also throwing bamboo sticks," a senior police officer on the spot said.
The protest turned violent when police, in an unsuccessful bid to chase protesters away, resorted to a lathicharge. But the silent protesters stood their ground, they braved police lathis and "unruly elements" to put forth their point — a "demand for justice" for the 23-year-old paramedic student who was tortured and gangraped by six men on December 16.
Unruly turn to protest
We were protesting peacefully, till these violent men joined the crowd. They were teasing us and molesting the women. If they are here to protest against the gangrape, how can they be disrespecting women?
Pooja Singh, Lawyer
They climbed the barricades and broke some with lathis. They torched some of the barricades. Before we knew what was happening, they began hurling stones and mud at the police
Tanya Abraham, Delhi University student
A group of seven to eight policemen surrounded me and hit me till I collapsed. After that my friends brought me to the hospital.
Mayur Dhwaj, Protester
There were goons who were attacking police with bricks, stones and lathis. They attacked buses and smashed them. But there were several who were protesting peacefully, and police attacked them as well. The use of force was excessive
Anmol Sharma, Student of Hansraj College
Look at these hooligans. They have crushed a government vehicle and are starting a fire near it. They have broken the metal grills and are hurling the piece at us. Not just stones, they are also throwing bamboo sticks
A senior police officer on the spot