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Candle burns Sheila fingers

Sheila Dikshit at Jantar Mantar on Saturday. Picture by Rajesh Kumar

New Delhi, Dec. 29: Chief minister Sheila Dikshit lit a candle in memory of the gang-rape victim who died this morning but had to beat a retreat as demonstrators at Jantar Mantar booed and heckled her, accusing her of politicising their protest.

The rough reception came hours after the Congress leader had said peaceful protests should be allowed at India Gate, the epicentre of last weekend’s violence that led to the death of a constable.

The government has closed the area around the iconic monument and shut down ten Metro stations in central Delhi to prevent agitators from reaching the site.

Sources said police had warned that a visit to Jantar Mantar might be risky but Dikshit, whose call to lift restrictions on peaceful protests at India Gate came after the victim’s death, was determined.

When she reached around 2pm, she was jostled by the crowd. “Sheila vapas jao (go away),” they chorused.

“Why did she come? To take votes? She has come to politicise the protests and we don’t want her to do that,” said A.K. Singh, a retired government employee.

Delhi approaches elections next year.

Dikshit did manage to light the candle but was back inside her white Ambassador in less than 10 minutes, a cop tucking the corners of her sari in as she got into the car.

The reactions were mixed on social networking sites. While most poured vitriol, others were pragmatic.

“At least Sheila Dikshit had the courage to go to Jantar Mantar. What about the other so called top level politicians,” tweeted Shreyasee @Shreyasee91.

Another, Gautam Chikermane @gchikermane, said on the one side, protesters say “why isn’t anyone from the government here. On the other they drive Sheila Dikshit away. Ridiculous expression of rage.”