A protestor kicks a teargas canister during a violent demonstration near the India Gate against a gang rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a bus last week, in New Delhi, India.

New Delhi -

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm on Monday after violent weekend protests sparked by the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus.

At least 68 protesters and 78 policemen were injured in Sunday's clashes as the police tried to evict the demonstrators from a high security area of the capital, police said. One policeman was reported to be in critical condition.

A dozen state buses and police vans were damaged as some of the protesters turned violent, breaking barricades and throwing stones.

Police fired tear gas and forcibly dispersed the crowd from the site near government offices and the presidential palace.

The woman had been gang-raped on a moving bus and beaten unconscious before the attackers threw her and her male companion from the vehicle near New Delhi's airport on December 16.

She was in critical condition on a ventilator, the NDTV news channel quoted doctors as saying.

“Anger at this crime is justified, but violence will serve no purpose,” Singh said. “I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm.”

Singh promised a speedy response to the “terrible crime” and said the government was examining measures to protect the safety of women and children.

Most of the thousands of protesters in the streets of the capital and several other cities were young people demanding swift action against rapists and safety for women. - Sapa-dpa