India: Tear Gas Fired At Gang Rape Protesters

Indian police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters who were demanding justice and safety for women following the brutal gang rape of a student on a bus.

Thousands of demonstrators in New Delhi surged towards the president’s palace chanting "we want justice" and carrying banners reading "hang them now".

Clashes between the protesters and riot police erupted when a group tried to break through barricades and some started throwing stones.

The police responded by opening fire on the crowds with gas and water, and using batons to try to control the masses.

It is the sixth day of protests in the wake of the attack on the 23-year-old physiotherapy student and her 28-year-old male companion by six drunk men on a bus.

They took it in turns to rape her and attack her with an iron rod, causing serious intestinal injuries, before throwing her off the bus.

The men claimed it was her punishment for being out in the evening with a man.

The woman is still battling for her life in a New Delhi hospital but her story has sparked massive demonstrations in a country where rape is the fastest rising crime.

The number of rape cases in New Delhi alone has risen 17% from 2011 to 661 this year, according to government figures.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, spokesman for the main national opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said New Delhi "is becoming the rape capital" of India.

He urged the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, "to please respond to the deep sense of pain, agony and concern of the young people".

Experts say a combination of abusive sexual behaviour and a scant fear of the law because of the woefully low conviction rate, encourage such attacks in the city, which has a population of 19 million.

The government has appealed for calm and has said it will press for life sentences for the woman's six attackers, pay her medical bills and improve policing.

Junior home minister R.P.N. Singh told India's CNN-IBN television network: "The government is trying to do whatever it can to take measures and make sure that women are safe in the country."

Doctors at the hospital where the woman is being treated said in a statement she is in a critical but stable condition and had been removed from a ventilator.

Five suspects were arrested soon after the attack, which happened on Sunday, and a sixth was taken into custody on Friday.