Prohibitory orders clamped, protesters defy police

New Delhi: Hours after police evacuated demonstrators from Raisina Hills and Sonia Gandhi's residence, high drama was witnessed at India Gate today when agitators resisted police attempts to detain them for defying prohibitory orders to protest against the gangrape of a young girl.

The protesters assembled near the war memorial from 9 AM when they were asked to vacate the location by the police which said the area was under Section 144 of CrPC which bans the assembly of four or more persons.

As the protesters remained defiant, police forcibly removed them from the spot.

Some of the protesters tried to get out of the police van but were pushed back into the vehicle. Later, the protesters also punctured the tyres of the bus which was carrying them while a group of girls lay down infront of it.

Women protesters alleged that they were manhandled by male police personnel though women police were present at the spot.

"We are here to protest a heinous crime. We have the right to protest," said Pushpa, a Nepali national, who is pursuing studies here.

Earlier in the morning, the police evacuated a number of protesters from area of Raisina Hills, where Rashtrapati Bhavan and key government offices are located, and outside Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's 10, Janpath residence where they had stayed put since last night to protest against the gang-rape of the 23-year-old girl on Sunday last.

The protesters, most of them students, who spent a chilly night in the open after they fought pitched battles with the police throughout the day yesterday at Raisina Hills, were taken into a bus in an early morning operation. Outside Gandhi's residence also, protesters were taken into custody.

A large number of police men were deployed and Raisina Hills and Rajpath were barricaded. Eight Metro stations near India Gate and Raisina Hills were closed as part of police preparations to contain the agitation.

The police clamped prohibitory orders in New Delhi district and asked protesters to stage demonstrations either at Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Maidan.

A Delhi Police statement said, "Protestors may go to Ramlila Maidan or Jantar Mantar. Traffic has been diverted from Vijay Chowk and Rajpath."

It said prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC have been issued in New Delhi area except Jantar Mantar.

Anticipating more protests on the gang-rape issue, eight Delhi Metro stations near Raisina Hill and India Gate were also closed for public.

Last night, it was decided to close four stations – Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan and Race Course – but this morning it was extended to four more-Barakhamba Road, Mandi House, Khan Market and Pragati Maidan.

Though the commuters were less in the morning it being Sunday, the few who chose to take the Metro to reach these destinations were put to hardship as they unaware of the announcement made late last night by DMRC.

Delhi Metro's decision came on the directions of the Delhi Police. The stations will remain closed till further orders.

"The stations will remain closed till DMRC gets further orders from the Delhi Police. All the four stations are close to India Gate. However, interchange will be allowed at Central Secretariat station," DMRC officials said.

The police move came a day after thousands of youths clashed with the police at Raisina Hills protesting against the gang-rape and demanding speedy punishment to the accused.