NEW DELHI —Police in India’s capital used tear gas and water cannons Saturday to push back thousands of people who tried to march to the presidential mansion to protest the gang rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus.
Several protesters suffered injuries when they repeatedly tried to break through steel barricades in a high-security zone in New Delhi. Police fired tear gas and chased the protesters with sticks, and some of the protesters attacked police with stones during sporadic clashes throughout the day.
The see-saw battle became fierce in the evening as a large number of protesters ran toward the nearby parliament building and again targeted police with stones and sticks. Hundreds of police deployed in the area chased them away. The demonstrators later regrouped and lit candles as the dusk fell.
The protesters were demanding the death penalty for all the six suspects who have been arrested by police following the Dec. 16 attack in New Delhi.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters that the government would examine this demand expeditiously and announced an official inquiry into last Sunday’s rape attack and to suggest measures to improve safety and security of women.
Shinde said five New Delhi police officers have been suspended for lack of prompt action following the rape attack.
He also met a delegation of student demonstrators and urged them to end their protest.
The attack last Sunday sparked days of protests across the country from women demanding authorities take tougher action to protect them against the daily threat of harassment and violence. On Friday, Indian officials announced a broad campaign to protect women in New Delhi.
Some of the protesters Saturday carried placards reading “Save women. Save India” and “Hang the rapists.”