New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) Fearing largescale protests after the death of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim, the government Friday closed down large parts of central Delhi, a move that attracted major flak from citizens who asked what police was afraid of.
"I live in a working women's hostel and the whole area has turned into a fortress. At least 100 girls from the hostel could not go to work or anywhere because there was no bus, auto or metro," said Shweta Arya, who lives in a women's hostel in Mandi House near India Gate.
Hitting out at the establishment for closing down India Gate and surrounding areas, the virtual power centre of the city, Arya told IANS: "They have deputed police right in front of the hostel. What are they afraid of? Are we criminals that they have to shut us inside our homes, block roads and stop the city? This is so unfair."
Kavita Bansal, who works in a west Delhi bank, had to take leave from work. "I live in central Delhi, but as the entire area has been shut down, I could not go to work. How will a person who has to go to the airport or has some emergency travel in such circumstances?" asked Bansal.
"When police have allowed protests at Jantar Mantar, what is the idea behind shutting 10 Metro stations," she asked.
As the news of the death of the young woman filtered in in the early hours, the home ministry sounded an alert and deployed police and paramilitary forces around India Gate and Raisina Road in central Delhi to foil possible violent street protests.
Authorities shut down 10 metro stations around India Gate. With security forces in full force and roads around India Gate barricaded, the heart of Delhi turned into a fortress.
Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat appealed to protesters to remain calm.
Protests were allowed at Jantar Mantar, where hundreds assembled to mourn the death of the woman who died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore where she was flown for treatment.
Shouting "We want justice" and "Hang the rapists", protesters collected at Jantar Mantar. A few sat in silence with black ribbons tied to their mouths.
Police video-taped the crowds and had water cannons on stand by.