Police in India’s capital New Delhi have used tear gas and water cannons on people demonstrating in the wake of a brutal gang rape of a female student on a bus last weekend.
Some female protesters were injured after the police charged them when they tried to approach a key federal government building near the India Gate monument in the heart of the capital on Saturday.
Many of the protesters clashed with the police, pelting stones at them, local network NDTV reported.
On Sunday, police imposed orders prohibiting public assembly in the area, calling on protesters to demonstrate at alternate locations.
“Security has been tightened in the heart of New Delhi, with police in riot gear in every area of possible demonstration. Section 144, a criminal code that prohibits assembly of more than five people, has been imposed. The situation turned quite ugly on Saturday, after protesters clashed with police, and the police retaliated with water cannon and tear gas,” reported Al Jazeera’s Subina Shrestha from New Delhi.
|The gang rape in New Delhi has sparked
public outrage across India [AFP]
Television footage of Saturday’s clashes showed several hundred protesters shouting, “We want justice”, as police struggled to stop the crowd from smashing flower pots and other symbols of the capital’s beautification drive.
The gang rape in New Delhi has sparked public outrage across India, bringing thousands of people onto city streets. Marches, demonstrations and candlelight vigils have spread during the last week.
A silent march was also organised in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on Saturday.
In the northeastern state of Assam, hundreds of women and girls marched through the city of Guwahati, carrying placards and shouting “Hang Rapists” and “Stop Violence Against Women”.
On Friday, hundreds of students and activists blockaded roads in New Delhi and marched to the president’s palace, breaking through police barricades, despite the use of water cannons, to demand better safety across the country.
Last week’s case – covered intensively by TV news networks – provoked uproar in parliament earlier this week, prompting the authorities to announce measures to make the capital safer for women.
These include increased policing and fast-tracking court hearings for rape.
The Indian government vowed on Friday to press for life sentences for her six attackers and promised stricter policing.
RK Singh, the home secretary, said the government would pay the medical bills of the 23-year-old victim, who is fighting for her life after suffering serious injuries to her intestines in the attack on Sunday night.
Six drunken men were joyriding on a bus when they picked up the physiotherapy student and her 28-year-old male companion and took turns raping her. Afterwards, they threw the pair off the speeding vehicle.
Police say the woman was attacked with an iron rod after being raped.
The public verbal and physical sexual harassment of women, known as “Eve-teasing”, is routine in New Delhi, which has come to be known as India’s “rape capital”.
New Delhi, home to about 16 million people, has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s cities.
Police figures show rape is reported on average every 18 hours and some other form of sexual attack every 14 hours in the capital.
Five of the suspects were arrested soon after the crime and a sixth was caught on Friday, the Press Trust of India reported.
Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Centre for Social Research, told Al Jazeera that activists wanted quick dispensation of justice in the case, but also changes in the way that police deal with such cases.
“We want more effective policing. We want police to be gender-sensitised so that a woman after being sexually assaulted or [being the victim of] any sexual crime, when she walks into the police station, the police must not start blaminig her,” she said.