At the end of a long day of angry shouting at the usually quiet and sanitised Raisina Hill, a group of young men and women huddled in a small group, talking to police men and women who had been deployed to lathi charge them. “Please go back,” a tired policeman told a very vocal man, folding his hands in front of him. But the young man was not in the mood to listen.
“Do you want to have another Jallianwala Bagh here?” he asked the police aggressively, adding that protest was his fundamental right. “When this happens to your own daughters, then you'll know,” said a girl.
Anger and indignation at the gang rape on Sunday night surged as thousands gathered at the road leading to Rashtrapati Bhawan, chanting slogans and demanding justice. In the past year, the gathered crowds had come close to the possibility of protest. They had met government representatives and their refusal to take necessary steps is what angered them.
Even after being lathi charged multiple times, water-cannoned and teargassed six times, it was clear they were not ready to go home. But there was a visible arrogance in the manner in which this anger was being expressed. As the anger grew, the crowds shouted expletives, made obscene gestures and threw bottles, coins and shoes at the forces deployed in front of them. Others felt angry at this behaviour of some of the protesters. "This is now why we are here," said some.
But the question of how the problem that has sparked this rage be solved remains a huge question. Cries of “hang those bastards!” were constantly heard. Placards demanding castration were being shown around. A group of young girls from Delhi University had been going up and down the road from India Gate to Raisina Hill all day, feeling a sense of emancipation at finally being able to vocalise the everyday anger at the little violations they faced everyday. This was not at the usual Jantar Mantar where staid protests happen; this was new, exciting and hopeful.
A man in the crowd told this reporter, “Hand them over to us, we will teach them a lesson”. Others were more reflective. A group of teachers from SDM school in Paschim Vihar said that the accused should face as much torture as the rape victim undergoes, and hanging them was not the solution. "But there should be a strict law to set an example," they concluded. Others said that the problem is such that the solution cannot come from policing and governance only. Shreya, a DU student said, "We have to begin with self-reflection. Most cases of harassment happen within our homes."
Meanwhile, Priyanka, a working woman had come there alone. Her father was calling her constantly and she was telling him not to be worried, she would be back home soon. She stays in the peripheries of the city and has a long way to go to get home.