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India - journalist shot dead as protests continue

  • The Indian government failed to stem a wave of furious protest against the gang-rape of a student yesterday, as a journalist was shot dead by police during a demonstration against another sex attack.

    Police fought protesters with tear gas, water cannon and batons for a second day running in Delhi, despite an attempt to stamp out the demonstrations by banning gatherings of more than five people.

    Metro stations were closed and roads into the high security administrative centre of the city were barricaded to prevent a build-up of protesters and a repeat of earlier violence.

    But by midafternoon several thousand protesters had reached the India Gate monument and scuffles with police left 30 to 35 people needing treatment.

    Stones and bottles were hurled at the police cordon as protesters tried to break through in clashes that lasted throughout the day.

    Protesters have been calling for better safety for women since a 23-year-old student was beaten and raped before being thrown from a moving bus in Delhi last Sunday.

    The victim was yesterday reported to be still in a critical condition, a week after the attack, but had given her first statment to the police. Six men have been arrested.

    The crime has highlighted the prevalence of sex attacks in India and led to outcry across the country, with many calling for the death penalty for the culprits.

    A 36-year-old Indian journalist was killed at a protest into a separate sex attack in north eastern India. Crowds had gathered in Imphal, Manipur, to protest the attempted rape of an actress and model.

    Momoko, who has waived her right to anonymity and appeared on television to demand justice, said a local militant tried to rape her at a concert last week, but she fought him off.

    The journalist was shot in the chest when the protest turned violent and police opened fire, local media reported.

    India's government has been caught off guard by the intensity of public anger against the Delhi rape and the authorities' failure to protect women. Police figures show a rape is reported in Delhi on average every 18 hours, though most assaults are believed to go unreported.

    The demonstrations have become the biggest protests in the capital since 2011's anti-corruption marches that shook the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

    The protesters, many of them college students, have not been appeased by promises of more policing at night, GPS trackers on buses and swifter verdicts for rape cases.

    Sherry Kaur, a student at Indraprastha University, told Reuters news agency: "Until and unless the government understands the pulse of the people and imposes strict action against these criminals, we will not relent."

    Sonia Gandhi, chief of the ruling Congress party, tried to calm the protesters herself, emerging from her home late on Saturday and again on Sunday, with her son, Rahul.

    "She assured us of justice," said one of the students who met the pair.

    Police appealed for the demonstrators to go home, saying a peaceful protest had been hijacked by hooligans.