Indian demonstrators look on after turning over a car during a protest calling for better safety for women following the rape of a student last week, in front of the India Gate monument
New Delhi says may use the death penalty as anger mounts over rape Protesters clash with police

NEW DELHI, Dec 23, (Agencies): India said Saturday it may consider using the death penalty to punish rapists as police fired tear-gas to quell the most violent day of demonstrations against the brutal gang-rape of a young woman.
Struggling to subdue mounting protests in the capital, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the Congress-led government would look at “enhanced punishment in the rarest of rare rape cases” — a reference to capital punishment.
The current maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment and “it (the death penalty) will have to be discussed in detail,” Shinde told a news conference late on Saturday.
Thousands of protesters, many of them college students, converged at the India Gate monument in the heart of the capital in the biggest of nearly a week of demonstrations since the assault took place last Sunday.
They then surged toward government buildings and the sprawling presidential palace, shouting “We want justice” and “Stop this shame” and remained late into the night as doctors said the victim was in critical but stable condition.
Police in India’s capital used tear-gas and water cannons for a second day Sunday in a high-security zone to break up protests by thousands of people demonstrating against the gang rape and beating of a 23-year-old student on a bus.
Police chased angry protesters with batons as they fought pitched battles to try to get past steel barricades and a wall created by hundreds of policemen to reach the president’s mansion to present their demands. “We want justice,” they shouted.
Television footage showed that some protesters were injured in the clashes.
The demonstrations continued Sunday despite Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promising to consider their main demand for death penalties for all six suspects who have been arrested by police following the Dec 16 attack.
Shinde said Saturday night that the government was taking steps to better ensure the safety of women.
A group of protesters met Sonia Gandhi, the governing Congress party chief, and her son and lawmaker Rahul Gandhi, on Sunday and demanded a speedy trial of the suspects.
Popular yoga guru Baba Ramdev stood on the roof of a bus and pledged support to the protesters. “The government must set up fast-track courts to punish the offenders in rape attacks,” he said.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures.
Most sexual assaults go unreported and unremarked, but the brutality of last week’s attack triggered the biggest protests in the capital since mid-2011 demonstrations against corruption that rocked the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The protesters, predominantly college students but also housewives and even children, are demanding more steps from the authorities to ensure safety for women – particularly better policing – and some want the death penalty for the accused.
Several metro stations were closed and many roads into the administrative centre of the city were barricaded on Sunday to prevent a build-up of protesters.
However, by late afternoon the crowd around the India Gate monument – normally a festive place on a Sunday – had swollen to several thousand.
Scuffles broke out near government buildings, where youths shouted “Down with Delhi police!” and threw bottles at the forces holding them back. Angry protesters later overturned a vehicle and seized police vans.


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