Delhi Metro shut the entry and exit gates of three metro stations as the protest against the death and forced cremation of a 19-year-old Dalit woman gained momentum in Jantar Mantar.
Protests have erupted in several parts of the country over the alleged gang-rape of the woman by four Thakur men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras.
On Friday, Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who had earlier called for a gathering at India Gate, joined the protest at Jantar Mantar. The protest site had been moved after section 144 was imposed outside India Gate.
The protest was attended by several politicians, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja.
Delhi Metro shut Rajiv Chowk, Janpath and Patel Chowk station briefly after it began.
In his address to the protestors, Azad called on the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the case.
“The police burnt her with petrol even though the family did not give permission. She was burnt like garbage. They have no right to do that,” he said.
Azad also tweeted that he would visit Hathras. Opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and TMC’s Derek O’Brien and Pratima Mandala who attempted to meet the Dalit woman’s family in Hathras were manhandled by the police and prevented from entering the village.
The family has said they were not being allowed to meet the media either.
BJP’s Uma Bharti tweeted at UP CM Yogi Adityanath asking him to let journalists and political leaders meet the family.
Kejriwal, meanwhile, took an extreme position, calling for the guilty to hanged.
“We have assembled here in grief. I pray to God that our daughter’s soul gets peace. I request the Uttar Pradesh government with my hands folded, hang the guilty as soon as possible. They should get such a punishment that no one will dare commit a crime like this again,” Kejriwal said.
“The Uttar Pradesh government has no right to stay in power. Our demand is that justice should be served,” Yechury said.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan also attended the protest at Jantar Mantar to demand justice in the Hathras case. “What is happening in Uttar Pradesh is goondaraj. The police have surrounded the village, are not allowing opposition leaders and media persons to enter it. They have taken away the mobile phones of the family members of the victim,” Bhushan was quoted as saying by PTI.
Opposition parties took to the streets on Friday and demanded the resignation of Yogi Adityanath.
The TMC on Friday said that its leaders were stopped by the Uttar Pradesh Police from meeting the family members of woman. Quoting an MP who was part of the delegation, the party said in the statement, “We are peacefully proceeding to Hathras to meet the family and pay our condolences. We are travelling individually and maintaining all protocols. We are not armed. Why are we stopped? What kind of jungle raj is this that elected MPs are prevented from meeting a grieving family.”
TMC later tweeted that party MPs continued their dharna one kilometre away from the woman’s home after being “roughed up” by Uttar Pradesh police.
Samajwadi Party workers were on Friday lathi charged by the police in Hazratganj area while they were taking out a protest march. The state police said that the action was taken to maintain the state’s law and order.
“We have detained SP workers including some MLAs. They have been taken away from the spot (Hazratganj),” a senior police officer was quoted as saying by PTI.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi attended a prayer meet at the Prachin Bhagwan Valmiki Mandir in Delhi on Friday. She said her party will continue to exert pressure on the government till justice is delivered in the case.
(With PTI inputs)