22 Dec 2012

Rape protest clashes at India’s presidential residence

Protestors demanding the death penalty for six men suspected of gang-raping a medical student break through police barricades at India’s presidential residence.

(video contains some images of violence)

Police used tear gas, water cannons and batons to try and disperse the crowds, who gathered at the presidential residence in New Delhi on Saturday morning.

Protests started a week ago in reaction to the rape and brutal beating of the 23-year-old medical student in New Delhi on Sunday 16 December. Police have arrested six suspects in connection with the attack and have said they are seeking life sentences for the assailants.

Protestors break through a barricade as police fire water cannons (Reuters)

However, protestors are demanding the death penalty for the men, and the perceived lack of a tough stance on violence against women has sparked protests across the country.


One protestor, Kusum, said: “This is a horrific incident that has happened. The cruelty of the incident is just inhuman. I cried when I got to know about it and I am sure every girl of Delhi must have cried too.

“I was never scared to leave my office at eight in the night, but now I am petrified and I take every step very carefully.”

Police use batons to quell protests (Reuters)

Footage from near the residences on Saturday showed police using tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to clear protestors, who were gathered behind steel barricades. They also fired shots into the air. Many protestors carried placards with messages such as “Save women. Save India” and “Hang the Rapists”.

However, protestors then managed to break through barricades – triggering a fight between baton-wielding officers (pictured, left) and protestors – who hurled rocks at the police.

“Barbaric animals”

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, leader of India’s main opposition party, BJP, said: “The demonstrators were protesting against the heinous act of the barbaric animals. If the government fires tear gas, shoots at them, baton charges them or fires water cannon on them, then it is will only instigate them for more protests.”

Two of the protestors at the presidential residences in New Delhi, India (Reuters)

C.P.N. Singh, a junior home minister, appealed to the demonstrators, who were mostly students, to protest peacefully and avoid vandalizing government property. “The government is hearing you and taking steps necessary to ensure the safety of women,” he told reporters.

The victim of the attack, and her companion, were attacked after getting a ride on a chartered bus. Police said the men gang-raped the woman and beat her and her companion with metal bars as the bus drove around New Delhi for hours. The pair were then stripped and dumped at the side of the road.

The victim is currently recovering from her injuries in hospital.