Shame City: Delhi turns battleground

After the public protest at India Gate turned violent on Sunday, with a section of crowd damaging vehicles, pelting stones and even indulging in attempted defacement of Amar Jawan Jyoti, Delhi police used teargas shells and rained batons to clear the crowd from Rajpath and other areas of the Lutyens’ Delhi.

The police later justified the ‘action’, saying it was not against the peaceful protest but some hoodlums were creating law and order problems and were resorting to violence. The day-long cat-and-mouse game between protesters and police left many injured on both sides. Constable Subhash Tomar had to be admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in a critical condition.

Joint Commissioner (Central) Taj Hasan, Additional Commissioner (New Delhi) K C Dwivedi, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer) B S Jaiswal and Additional Deputy Commissioner (New Delhi) Sanjay Tyagi among the injured.

Binisha Malik, an MNC professional, said, ‘Today’s crowd was completely different from yesterday. There were more hooligans. They did not have the real issue on their mind and because of this, sincere protesters’ expression against the horrible incident was hijacked. Some were just keen to have a fight with police, and agitators like us suffered because of this.’

While addressing the media, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dharmendra Kumar said, ‘The protest by the youth has been hijacked by a few anti-social elements. The public anger has been misused by the hooligans, who have been violating law for their personal benefits. After watching the footage, we will take action against all the hooligans, as they have destroyed the public property.’ Some protesters also uprooted wooden barricades erected for the 26 January Republic Day parade and set them on fire, before using them to damage vehicles.

‘We request people to stay calm and be patient, as we are considering the demands of the protesters. A retired judge of Supreme court will head the commission of inquiry set-up to look into the matter,’ Kumar added.

Earlier, the public protest was hijacked by various political parties and organisations on Sunday, including Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party and Baba Ramdev. While Kejriwal, with his colleagues and supporters, was at India Gate the entire day, Ramdev was stopped before reaching India Gate. He addressed his supporters at Jantar Mantar. A section of the crowd also manhandled Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit, who was crossing through India Gate around noon. The violent crowd smashed the glass of his car and raised slogans against him and his mother, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit. Later police got him out of the car and escorted him to safety.

There were unconfirmed reports of women being molested at the protest site itself. With allegations of excesses from both sides – police and protesters – the security personnel tried their best to break up emotionally charged crowds.
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