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Indian police seal city to halt protest

A police officer guarded a road that was blocked to stop demonstrators from advancing Monday in New Delhi.

REUTERS

A police officer guarded a road that was blocked to stop demonstrators from advancing Monday in New Delhi.

NEW DELHI — Authorities shut down roads in the heart of India’s capital on Monday in an attempt to end a week of demonstrations seeking better protection of women from sexual assaults.

Thousands of armed police and paramilitary troops blocked roads in central New Delhi to prevent protesters from marching to the presidential palace. A small group of demonstrators gathered at a venue less than a mile away from India’s Parliament to press the government to act after the gang rape and beating of a woman on a moving bus.

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The city ground to a halt as commuters became caught in massive traffic jams after most roads in central Delhi were barricaded by police.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm and promised that the government would take tough action to prevent crimes against women. There has been outrage across India over the Dec. 16 rape that left the young woman in critical condition in a hospital.

‘‘Anger at this crime is justified, but violence will serve no purpose,’’ Singh said.

Police have used tear gas and water cannons and hit protesters with batons during the protests.

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