New Delhi: Police sprayed water to break up a protest on Wednesday outside Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's house by students angry over the gangrape of a young woman now battling for life.

As the demonstration became noisier, police used water jets, felling defiant young men and women who refused to budge from the spot. The others were forced to retreat.

The demonstrators included many male students who said that they were as incensed about the horrific Sunday rape in a moving bus as anyone else.

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Another demonstration outside the Delhi Police headquarters ended peacefully after a group of women met Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar. Speaking later, Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan told the media, "We have been assured that this case will be dealt with in a very, very severe manner."

The 150 or so women and college students who massed outside the police headquarters demanded more police presence on roads and fast-track courts to deal with rapists. These protesters belonged to more than 20 women's groups and others. Their demonstration blocked traffic on an otherwise busy road.

"We want Delhi Police to follow a set of procedures and guidelines as conviction rates are very low when it comes to rape," complained Sudha Sundar Raman of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA). "There is also an urgent need to set up fast track courts to deal with rape cases, such cases should be investigated and a judgment pronounced within six months " she said.

A statement distributed to the media said, "We call on Delhi Police to ensure the immediate arrest of all the perpetrators, carry out efficient investigation and take measures for a speedy trial leading to stringent punishment for the culprits. This incident is a shameful pointer to the sad state of law and order and the general apathy, insensitivity that the system has towards women."

Some women demanded that police should step up patrolling in the city, especially at night. The young woman who was raped by half-a-dozen men in a bus and then dumped on a road is battling for life at the Safdarjung Hospital.

Doctors had earlier said the woman, who hails from Uttarakhand, remained in critical condition.

(Agencies)

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