Indian police detain key opposition leaders protesting rape

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This photograph provided by All India Congress Committee (AICC) shows Indias opposition Congress party leader, Rahul Gandhi, second right being stopped by police on a highway in Gautam Buddha Nagar, Uttar Pradesh state, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Indian police detained the party's key leaders after preventing them from visiting a village where a 19-year-old woman from India's lowest caste was gang raped last month and later died in a hospital. (AICC via AP)

LUCKNOW – Indian police detained key leaders of the opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi, on Thursday after preventing them from visiting a northern village where a 19-year-old woman from India's lowest caste was allegedly gang raped last month and later died in a hospital.

The attack was the latest brutal sexual violence against women to rile India. It triggered street protests in several parts of the country this week.

Police officer Manoj Dixit said the two party leaders were detained for violating an order banning the assembly of four or more people in the area to prevent any violence by protesters.

Police stopped their convoy on a highway on the way to the village, where the party leaders planned to meet with the woman's family. They got out of their car and started walking to the village, but were blocked again by the police.

Dozens of Congress party workers scuffled with the police, who used sticks to disperse them. Some party workers were injured, and Rahul Gandhi slipped to the ground in the melee before he was taken away by police, video on television news channels showed.

The two leaders were driven back to New Delhi by police and freed later Thursday.

Also Thursday, several dozen students held protests in the Indian capital and in the southern Indian city of Hyderbad demanding protection for women.

On the campus of Delhi University, students burned an effigy of Yogi Adityanath, the top elected official of Uttar Pradesh state, before being taken away by police. The protest in Hydrabad was organized by the Students Federation of India.