Desperate measures to stop protests

Roadblocks to thwart anti-rape demonstrations cause traffic jams in central Delhi

Despite police imposed prohibitory order in Lutyens’ zone and deputed thousands of police personnel at India Gate, Raisina Hills and Jantar Mantar and closed
Metro stations, hundreds of students and activists gathered at Jantar Mantar and demonstrated against police and demanded harsher punishment for the six accused in the brutal gang rape.

After Sundays’ crackdown at India Gate, there was heavy police deployment across India Gate, and all roads leading to it had four layers of security barricades, and traffic was diverted on other routes.

Sunny Sharma, a commuter at K G Marg, said, “I have never seen so many police officials at one place. They have blocked all the roads toward India Gate.”

But this did not mar the spirit of the students. They gathered at Jantar Mantar in small groups and protested against police and the government but not more than 500 students and activists gathered throughout the day.

They complained about police step of imposing probationary orders and closing several Metro stations.

Tanushree Sharma, a class 10 student, said: “We have walked almost five kilometre to reach here. The government might shut Metro stations and roads but they cannot stop us from saying what we want.”

Jantar Mantar was echoed with slogans like “we want justice” while policemen and paramilitary personnel carrying baton watched them silently. Armed with placards, banners, posters and mini mikes, the protesters in small groups sang patriotic song and shouted slogans.

Condemning Sunday’s violence, Shalini Dabas, a DU undergraduate, said, “We went to India Gate on Sunday to protest but due to few notorious people, it turned ugly. All we want is justice for the brutally gang raped victim who is fighting for her life, and safety of women in Delhi.”

Santu Kumar, a student of class 11, with his classmate entered Jantar Mantar dancing, shouting slogans and holding placards written “the rapists must be hanged; let us ensure safety for our sisters”.

They were, like some others, gathered in school uniforms.

Protesters made it clear that they wanted to demonstrate peacefully and did not want a repetition of the violence that left a large number of policemen and protesters injured on Sunday.

“We need justice to be delivered as soon as possible, and we will keep protesting till that happens,” said Rupali Gulati, 19, a DU student.

The protest continued throughout the day. But interestingly, among the peaceful supports various students’ unions from different universities came at the protest site to register their concern over the issue.

Members of All India Students’ Association, National Students’ Union of India and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad camped at the protest site, in groups and shouted slogans.

Traffic chaos

The closure of arterial roads to India Gate due to security clampdown following the Sunday’s crackdown choked  the Capital on Monday.

Thousands of commuters were stranded at major intersections as several roads leading to India Gate were barricaded triggering massive traffic snarls.

Thousands of people working in the central Delhi had to walk long distances as Metro stations were shut down.

The 2.5-km stretch between India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan was barricaded. Even the India Gate lawns were sealed off to prevent the clashes between protestors and security forces seeing Sunday’s agitation.

Commuters, who got stuck in traffic snarls complained that curtailing traffic and making common people suffer is not the way to deal with the heated situation.

“They have blocked the entire central Delhi. It is like curfew. But this will not stop the protesters so I don’t know what the point of doing all this really is,” said Sunil Singh Vidyarthi, a private teacher.

Earlier, Delhi Traffic Police issued an advisory saying eight arterial roads that lead to India Gate would be closed for traffic.

“Rajpath, including central vista India Gate (C-Hexagon), Rajpath from C-Hexagon to Vijay Chowk and crossroads near Rafi Marg, Janpath and Man Singh road will remain
closed for general traffic,” said a traffic official.

The commuters were advised to avoid these areas. But for north-south travelling, Sardar Patel Marg, Ridge Road, Mother Teressa Crescent Road, RML Road, Mathura Road, Ring
Road on east side of Rajpath would be available.

Plying of buses on Mathura Road between Neela Gumbad Nizamuddin to W-point would remain closed. These buses would ply on Ring Road, said the advisory.

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