Hooligans force police action, the rest bear the brunt

As the sun went down at India Gate on Sunday, the mostly uneventful protest that had been continuing since Saturday morning took a dramatic turn.

At 5 pm, tear gas shells began raining down and a lathicharge spared none. The batons made no distinction between peaceful protesters and those hurling stones as police, after being attacked, swung into action.

Prakash K Ray, a PhD student at JNU, said, "We saw some police officers getting hit by stones hurled by some of the unruly elements. The mob overturned a government car. They (police) got angry. All the policemen started charging, pushing people out. In this surge, the policemen spared none. People who were sitting on the road with placards were picked up and hit, and forced to flee."

Among those who were caught in the melee were families. Sharmishta Chatterjee, a student of B Com at Delhi University, said, "I had gone to protest with my family... the crowd started running towards Tilak Marg and we were pushed along. I picked up my sister, who is 12 years old, and started running. Then a lathi hit me on the back. I never thought that the situation would turn this bad."

Most people said they "understood the police action", but added that it was "excessive".

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