Pitched battles were fought between protesters and police on Sunday at India Gate area over the gangrape of a Delhi medical student even as groups led by political parties and similar outfits infiltrated the agitation by citizens which took a violent turn.
There were teargassing by police again and again as protesters threw stones and converged at the ground zero of the movement at India Gate despite several measures by the authorities to block their routes, including closing down of metro stations.
Several were injured on Sunday in the protest that were dispersed again and again by police only to find people regrouped and leading fresh agitations.
The victim, battling for life at Safdarjung Hospital, was being operated again on Sunday, reports said. She is far from being out of danger and reports said her condition only deteriorated in a way after some initial signs of improvement in past few days.
Police resorted to teargassing on Sunday at the India Gate to disperse the protesters even as the fire of agitation raged with youngsters braving the winter chill of Delhi to scream for justice and exemplary measures.
Police also used water cannons to control the crowd at India Gate outer circle as protesters with placards screaming "We Want Justice" remained in belligerent mood.
Police allowed only people on foot to enter the India Gate circle.
Some groups with political affiliations, including groups like Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena that had assaulted Supreme Court lawyer and activist Prashant Bhusan, joined the movement as they mixed up with the crowd of students who had gathered earlier just to protest spontaneously.
Meanwhile, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress general secretary on Sunday met one group of protesters who were camping on streets and agitating relentlessly to decry the Delhi gangrape.
The protesters after coming out of the residence of Sonia Gandhi said they were assured of action and appealed to other protesters to maintain peace as they continue to agitate.
Two representatives among the protesters, including a girl, addressed the media on their meeting but refused to identify them by names.
The young students were also accompanied by junior home minister RPN Singh when they spoke to media.
"We have assured to fast track this case and ensure day to day basis hearing," said Singh.
"These group had met us last night and they were asked to come at 10 am. We assured them to make this case a rarest of rare case. We will ensure strongest possible punishment for the culprits," said Singh.
"They have given us many suggestions. We are considering them. We will see that the victim is not forced to prove her charge but the accused has to defend himself," said Singh.
"The government has heard them loudly and very, very clearly. Many in groups also said they are against capital punishment but strong punishment," said Singh.
Protesters say women aren't safe in Delhi, Sonia 'agrees'
Sources said Sonia Gandhi agreed with protesters that women do not feel safe in Delhi and need more security.
Rahul Gandhi also met them briefly and while promising action tried to reason with them that decisions cannot be driven by just emotions, reports said.
Sonia had met some of the protesters on Saturday and had promised to speak to them on Sunday.
The protesters continue to defy the curfew imposed in New Delhi district and many have not moved from India Gate, despite the police appealing to them to move to Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Maidan.
The government imposed a curfew in New Delhi district on Sunday to check the protests that threatened to go out of control. It also closed seven metro stations in Delhi.
The move came after some protesters carried out overnight demonstrations at Vijay Chowk and India Gate protesting against the gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student on December 16.
Police evacuated the areas and took the protesters away in buses.
Seven metro stations near India Gate - Patel Chowk, Udyog Bhavan, Race Course, Central Secretariat, Khan Market, Barakhamba Road and Mandi House - were closed from 6am on Sunday.
Many protesters injured, one cop in critical condition
Several protesters -- the number estimated at 50 -- were injured in the earlier police action. A police constable was reportedly seriously injured in stoning.
A constable of the Delhi Police, Subhash Tomar, is in critical condition at a Delhi hospital after being injured in the protests today at India Gate, a NDTV report said.
Delhi Police chief justifies action against protesters
Expressing concern over the police crackdown against protesters at India Gate here Sunday, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said the incident was unfortunate but the situation warranted the action.
"It was unfortunate that we had to use force against protesters," Neeraj Kumar told television channel CNN-IBN.
"India Gate is a tourist place. It is not a site for protests. They are welcome at Jantar Mantar and Ramlila Maidan as they are sites for protesting," he said.
He added that a constable injured in stone pelting by protesters is in hospital and his condition is critical.
As many as 143 people, including 78 police personnel, were injured in the police cane-charge at India Gate.
Earlier, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dharmendra Kumar said protestors voicing concern over the incident should avoid violence and maintain peace.
"Some hooligans are trying to turn the agitation violent by hijacking public sentiments. Public must separate themselves from these people. We are not against peaceful protest," he said.
BJP seeks all party meeting on gang-rape
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday urged the government to convene an all-party meeting over the gang-rape of a young woman here.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj made the demand during a telephonic conversation with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
"My young friends: We appreciate your feelings. Your anger is genuine. But please give us some time," Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, said on microblogging site Twitter.
"I have just spoken to the home minister to convene an all party meeting to resolve this situation," she said.
She had urged protesters not to resort to violence.
"Please do not resort to violence. That is not the solution. It is our country. This is our problem. We will definitely find a solution," she said.
Sushma Swaraj Saturday requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call a special session of parliament to "frame a law to provide for exemplary punishment for crimes against women".
Dikshit meets Shinde, says cut VIP security
Appealing to people agitated over a gang-rape here to maintain peace, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Sunday said providing security to public should take precedence over VIP security which needed pruning.
"I want to emphasise, even if there is need to cut VIP security, it should be done," Dikshit told reporters after a meeting with union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
The Delhi government has sought a "rationalisation of police deployment including VIP security deployment".
"You find very often the excuse is that there are so many VIPs so we can not look after ordinary citizens," she said.
Dikshit appeared critical of police, who are controlled by the central government, over the Dec 16 gang-rape in a moving bus, saying taht suspending some constables was not enough.
"People should be sensitised and police should also be sensitised. Police should be more sensitive and accountable," she said.
The chief minister met Shinde after chairing a special meeting of her cabinet on the incident and the situation arising out of it, including protests near India Gate over the brutal incident.
Ramdev, ex-army chief join protests at Jantar Mantar
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and former army chief V.K. Singh on Sunday joined the protests against the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi and condemned the police crackdown on protesters voicing anger against the incident.
Ramdev reached the Jantar Mantar standing atop a bus and addressed the crowd, along with the former army chief.
When the yoga guru tried to march towards the epicentre of the protests at India Gate, just over two kilometres away, he was stopped by police.
As soon as Ramdev and V.K. Singh got down from the dais at Jantar Mantar, police cordoned off the area and did not allow them to leave, an aide of the yoga guru said.
Some of Ramdev's supporters allegedly had a scuffle with police in an attempt to break the barricades. According to members from Ramdev's team, two people were injured.
"They had barricaded Jantar Mantar and we were not allowed to move," said an aide of the yoga guru.
Speaking at Jantar Mantar earlier, Ramdev demanded death sentence for the rapists and blamed police for not providing enough security to women on roads.
"The government should set up fast-track courts and punish all the rapists. We want death penalty for all the accused," he said.
"I condemn police brutality against the peaceful youngsters," he added.
Ramdev later went to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where protesters injured in the police action at India Gate and surrounding areas were taken.
PM calls for calm
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there was "genuine and justified anger and anguish at this ghastly incident" but appealed for calm and assured that "all possible efforts" would be taken to ensure security and safety of women in the country.
"I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm," he said, according to a tweet by the Prime Minister's Office.
Protesters damage Republic Day parade preparation works
A part of the preparation work for the Jan 26 Republic Day parade was damaged on Sunday when some protesters uprooted the wooden and metal frames and made bonfires at five places. They also vandalised police vehicles as well as those belonging to some protesters.
Thousands of protestors were gathered at India Gate Sunday as part of increasing protests over the Dec 16 brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old woman.
The protests, mostly by students, Sunday saw lumpen elements mingling with the crowd and uprooting the metal and wooden frames put up for the Republic Day parade.
The unruly elements uprooted around 200 metres of the thick wooden planks and the metal frames and made huge bonfires of the wood at around five places. This was seen by an IANS correspondent present at the site.
The metal and wooden frames had been fixed alongside Raj Path near the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the flame commemorating the immortal solider. Preparations for the parade had begun early this month.
The protestors also damaged a government car and several police vehicles parked near the area. Two motorcycles belonging to protestors also bore the brunt of the vandalism.
One car was turned upside down and its windows were smashed, while the wind-screen and windows of buses parked on the periphery were smashed.
As many as eight Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses hired by Delhi Police were damaged by the protestors. The buses were later parked near the Mandir Marg police station.
India Gate area to be cleaned up ahead of Putin visit
With Russian President Vladimir Putin arriving in New Delhi on Monday for a day-long visit, the civic agencies are planning to clean up the area around India Gate - the site of a mass protest and violence against a gang-rape.
President Putin is likely to visit India Gate on Monday, a source said.
"We will clear away the stones and glass and paper lying on the roads early Monday morning," New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) spokesperson Amit Prasad said.
Government sources said that orders have been passed to the civic agency to clear the area by Monday morning.
By night, roads in the area were littered with sandals, shoes, books, hand-held banners, bags and water bottles, left behind by those who fled the protest site in panic due to the baton charge.