It was an angry Saturday in Delhi as citizens laid siege to Vijay Chowk area — the country’s power centre, housing North Block, South Block and Parliament — to protest against increasing incidents of rape in the national capital. For around seven hours, a situation persisted where any minister and bureaucrat had to literally use rear exits had they wanted to go to other parts of the city.
The crowd had no leader. No mobiliser. No politics. And no standard set of demands. There were just citizens venting out their outrage on the establishment which could not make the city a safer place for women.
As Rekha Gupta, one of the protester said, “When the government has allowed rapes all these years, it should allow protest at least for few hours.”
By 11 am, more than 1,000 people had gathered at Vijay Chowk in various groups and affiliations. Some camped right opposite India Gate. Others kept standing as a human chain. Yet others continued marching in Raisina Hill area only to encounter police barricades around 500 metres from President House.
At least on five occasions during the day, police clashed with protesters using water cannons, tear gas shells and batons. But after each protest, the energy and numbers only increased.
Bonded by outrage, protesters had no common demand though. “Hand them over to public, we will do justice,” read a placard. Another suggested, “The problem is men. Hence men should not be allowed to go out after 9 pm.”
While some demanded speedy justice, other said nothing but capital punishment would send a strong message.