Protesters who gathered near Rashtrapati Bhavan to demand justice for Patient X, the victim of last Sunday's gang rape in Delhi, were given a reply by the government in the form of lathi charges, tear gas and water cannons. The brutal police action injured 400 people.
The government then went on to justify the heavy-handed response to the protests. Minister of state in the prime minister's office V Narayanasamy said “agitation is not the solution” ... “when they defy law and order, government has to use force”.
The mass outpouring at Raisina Hill overwhelmed securitymen, who found themselves outnumbered. Matters came to a head when the protesters tried to enter Rashtrapati Bhawan. The police began with caning, then threw tear gas shells and finally sprayed the crowd with water in the winter chill in order to disperse them.
The action, however, failed to dampen the spirit of the young, some of whom resorted to violence and pelted stones and damaged public and police buses. The women hit back at the police, hurling their bangles, bottles, coins and slippers.
Later in the day, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde announced that five policemen have been suspended for negligence in the rape incident. He added that the government would amend the criminal law for more effective punishment in the 'rarest of rare' cases of sexual assault such as this.
But the minister’s announcements did not cut ice with the protestors who continued shouting slogans and held a candlelight vigil till late in the night. Throughout the day they had packed the 2.5km stretch from India Gate to Raisina Hill.
Immediately after the third round of lathi charge in the evening, around a dozen injured protestors were brought to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. The Centralised Accident and Trauma Services (CATS), which had deployed ambulances at the spot, said that 200 injured persons were given first aid on the spot, while 200 were taken to hospitals. “Most of them had fracture, burn injury, and open wounds,” said a CATS personnel. Utkarsh, a Delhi University student, said he got slip disc while he fell after the lathi charge.
The trauma for the injured did not end here though. Shweta, an employee of a private firm in Delhi who got injured, insisted that the doctors mention lathi charge in the Medico legal case register. “The doctors however are adamant that it was a case of stampede. I have decided not to get treated here,” said Shweta, as she left the hospital.
According to CATS, at least six policemen were injured in the clash.
‘Psychologically composed’ Patient X gives statement
New Delhi: Two psychologists met Patient X, the woman who was raped in a Delhi bus, on Saturday and said she was “positive and optimistic about her future”. “She is also totally balanced and composed,” added Dr Abhilasha Yadav. Dr Kuldeep said that she responded well to his questions. The victim also gave her statement to the sub-divisional magistrate. Her statement is now admissible in court and she narrated the entire incident to the SDM. Her WBC count has increased, however her bilirubin is at 5.9, and her platelet count is lower than yesterday. Doctors said a positive sign is that she is breathing on her own. She is even communicating better than yesterday, and had water and sips of apple juice.