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Protesters enter Delhi's power corridor

B S Arun, NEW DELHI, Dec 22, 2012, DHNS 1:36 IST

Mainstream parties keep off rallies

Demonstrators shout slogans as police use water cannons to disperse them near the presidential palace during a protest rally in New Delhi December 22, 2012. Indian police used batons, tear gas and water cannon to turn back thousands of people marching on the presidential palace on Saturday in intensifying protests against the gang-rape of a woman on the streets and on social media. REUTERS photo
It was a protest which Delhiites had not seen in over two decades. The protesters, agitated over the gang-rape of a 23-year-old, stormed the seat of power in Central Delhi like never before and took their battle against atrocities against women to the very doorstep of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

On Friday, a girl student broke the police cordon and got past the armed guards of Rashtrapati Bhavan stunning the security forces.

On Saturday, protesters gathered at the area from 9.00 am and several of them were let inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan in groups to submit memorandum at his office.

National capital’s corridor of power falls in the Raisina Hill-Vijay Chowk-Boat Club area. The lush green lawns of Boat Club, overlooking Parliament House and North Block and South Block and several buildings housing various ministries, have not seen any protests in the last two decades as Section 144 is permanently in operation there. Boat Club, to which week-end crowds throng like the Hyde Park of London, was also witness to several historic moments.

Old timers in Delhi say political rallies were the order of the day prior to 1991. One such was organised by then deputy prime minister Devi Lal at the height of his differences with then prime minister V P Singh. Devi Lal held the huge rally but to outsmart him, Singh announced the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, giving reservation to backward classes. Old timers also recall the Sampoorna Kranti of Jaiprakash Narayan at Boat Club in 1975. The Boat Club-Vijay Chowk-Raisina Hill vicinity had been a no-go area for the demonstrators ever since the government banned rallies following the longest-ever dharna organised by farmers leader Mahendra Singh Tikait in 1991. Tikait’s supporters numbering in thousands had parked themselves on the lush green lawns Boat Club where they cooked and slept there for days on end.

Finally, when the agitators left, the government decided to impose ban on rallies there. From then on, demonstrations were restricted mainly to the nearby Jantar Mantar and Ramlila Maidan, away in Old Delhi.







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