Indian police have banned protesters from gathering in central New Delhi, after a wave of violent demonstrations against gang-rape of a medical student in the capital last weekend, an official statement says.
Areas close to the president’s residence and the parliament were declared off-limits to protesters, the statement released on Sunday morning said.
The order comes a day after police fired tear gas and water cannon at demonstrators in those areas.
Local media reported that the police were forcibly attempting to remove protesters from the area again on Sunday, and that there had been some sporadic violence. Protest organisers have called on supporters to defy the police’s ban.
“Security has been tightened in the heart of New Delhi, with police in riot gear in every area of possible demonstration. Section 144, a criminal code that prohibits assembly of more than five people, has been imposed,” reported Al Jazeera’s Subina Shrestha from the Indian capital.
“The situation turned quite ugly yesterday after protesters clashed with police, and the police retaliated with water cannon and tear gas.”
A delegation of protesters has met Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the ruling Congress party, to convey their demands.
Some female protesters were injured after the police charged them when they tried to approach a key federal government building near the India Gate monument in the heart of New Delhi on Saturday.
Television footage of Saturday’s clashes showed several hundred protesters shouting, “We want justice”, as police struggled to stop the crowd from smashing flower pots and other symbols of the capital’s beautification drive.
The gang rape in New Delhi has sparked public outrage across India, bringing thousands of people onto city streets. Marches, demonstrations and candlelight vigils have spread during the last week.
A silent march was also organised in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on Saturday.
Last week’s gang rape case, covered intensively by TV news networks, provoked uproar in parliament earlier this week, prompting the authorities to announce measures to make the capital safer for women.
These include increased policing and fast-tracking court hearings for rape.
Five of the suspects in the case were arrested soon after the crime and a sixth was caught on Friday, the Press Trust of India reported.
Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Centre for Social Research, told Al Jazeera that activists wanted quick dispensation of justice in the case, but also changes in the way that police deal with such cases.
“We want more effective policing. We want police to be gender-sensitised so that a woman after being sexually assaulted or [being the victim of] any sexual crime, when she walks into the police station, the police must not start blaminig her,” she said.
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