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Police in India clamp down on protests over gang rape

Even as Indian Prime Minster Manmohan Singh appealed for calm after violent weekend protests over the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, police in the nation's capital were enforcing a complete clampdown.

Prime Minister Singh urged calm and vowed to protect women as police struggled Monday to quell increasing outrage over sex crimes, following the gang-rape of a student on a bus on Dec. 16.

"There is genuine and justified anger and anguish at this ghastly incident," Singh said in a televised speech."

"We are constantly monitoring her medical condition. Let us all pray for her and her loved ones during this critical time" Singh added.

In light of the protests, the venue of the meeting between Singh and visiting Russian President Vladimar Putin was shifted to the prime minister's residence.

Usually, such meetings are held in Hyderabad House, which is close to India Gate, the scene of protests in the last two days.

The entire central square of India Gate circle and Raisina Hill was cordoned off and a heavy police presence was being maintained on all roads leading to India Gate and other areas of central New Delhi, in an effort to keep protestors away.

Media members have been asked to keep away from the area, to try to stop relentless coverage of the protests.

Earlier in the morning, a number of protesters who had stayed put at India Gate were cleared out. The young demonstrators, who spent a chilly night in the open after they fought a pitched battle with police throughout Sunday, were put on a bus by police.

The government also announced the establishment of a special committee made up of former judges to look into possible changes in the law to provide for quicker trials for suspects and enhanced punishment for those convicted of sexual assault of an extreme nature against women.

Meanwhile, the victim was put back on the ventilator as she battled for her life at a local hospital. Her condition remained critical, though she was conscious and communicating. Her platelet condition has dipped further -- an indication of infection.

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