Asian Age Correspondent
New Delhi, 24 December 2012. The peaceful protest in the national capital over the gangrape of a young woman turned violent on Sunday as hooligans and some political elements, while taking advantage of the facelessness of protesting people, entered the fray, the police said.
This resulted in destruction of public property and attacks on the police. In retaliation, the police said, it resorted to teargas and water cannon, leading to injuries to persons on both sides. Over 150 persons were injured, including 78 police officials of whom one was reported as being in critical condition. More than two dozen police and private vehicles were damaged, including a Doordarshan OB van.
Even a proactive initiative taken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who met a group of protesting youth Sunday morning, failed to break the ice as political elements like Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia of Aam Admi Party (AAP) and yoga guru Baba Ramdev, along with former Army Chief General V K Singh, joined the protesters at different places in the national capital.
After the meeting between Mrs Gandhi and representatives of the protesting youth, minister of state for home affairs R P N Singh said, “The government has agreed to set up fast-track courts for speedy trial in the case and will ensure strictest punishment of the culprits.” He later apologised for the police crackdown, admitting that 99 per cent of the protesters were peaceful.
Expressing deep sorrow over the events leading to the protester-police clashes, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said late Sunday night, “Let us all pray for her (the victim) and her loved ones during this critical time. There is genuine and justified anger and anguish at this ghastly incident. We are constantly monitoring her medical condition. We are all joined in our concern for the young woman who was the victim of a heinous crime in Delhi.”
Meanwhile, hectic parleys continued to play out within the government with Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit first hold.