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The protests at India Gate being hailed until now as the voice of the youth turned ugly on Sunday evening with people hurling stones at security personnel, damaging vehicles and blocking traffic.
People have been protesting at Raisina Hill since Saturday morning, demanding justice for the 23-year-old woman who was tortured and gangraped on board a moving bus on December 16.
Women in the crowd complained of "molestation" by unruly men. A few protesters, armed with hockey sticks, smashed vehicles and torched police barricades.
In retaliation, police resorted to lathicharge and fired at least 250 tear gas shells. After a police constable was seriously injured, the securitymen at India Gate charged at the protesters and began clearing the area.
No one was spared in the police action. Women, children and mediapersons too were at the receiving end. Delhi Police later said that 78 police personnel were injured in the stone pelting. Sixty five protesters received injuries and 12 DTC buses and an equal number of PCR vans were damaged.
The protest began at 9 am with a few hundred gathering on the India Gate lawns. Soon, police issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, preventing assembly of people anywhere in the New Delhi district.
But defying the orders, the number of protesters began to swell and crossed the 10,000-mark. Police said the crowd, which initially comprised college students, was joined by a mob of "hooligans" who hijacked the peaceful demonstrations.
Appealing for peace, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dharmendra Kumar said: "The hooligans were responsible for the violence on Sunday. All the demands of the public have been met and the police have been requesting protesters to maintain peace and calm."
After initial police requests were met with compliance, the crowd returned to India Gate at 12.30 pm. Police barricaded the area, turning it almost into a fortress. A four-tier security cordon was in place, comprising local police, Delhi Armed Police, Central Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action Force.
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