Magisterial inquiries are not new to the police or the public. Whether the findings of scores of such inquiries initiated have been of utility to the administration is a moot point.

In this backdrop, will the one ordered by the government to probe into the events that resulted in police firing at Rajendranagar be any different? Unlike other violent incidents, Cyberabad Police did not come out with any details – like how many rounds were fired, even a day after three lives were lost in the firing.

The sequence of events includes burning a religious flag tied to a pole at an open place; members of two communities gathering there to ascertain facts; subsequent clashes, stone pelting and arson. But the crucial question would be regarding the ordering of the Border Security Force jawans to open fire on the mob, and whether other options had been explored to disperse the mob before firing was resorted to.

Police have came under criticism whenever they employed force to contain violence during the Telangana agitation – mostly confined to Osmania University and a few other pockets in the city. When members of Greyhounds thrashed a media person and used him as human shield against agitators pelting stones, some police officers found fault with the idea of using fighting forces like Greyhounds to control mobs.

Subsequently, it was decided that units of paramilitary forces like Central Reserve Police Force and BSF deployed during agitations should be attached to a local police officer to ensure their judicious and effective use. The fresh incident at Rajendranagar raises the question if the BSF was properly utilised by the local police to control the situation.

Where are the cops?

Handling communal clashes requires a certain expertise. Proper training of officials and field-level staff in this aspect are essential for any police force.

Owing to frequent incidence of communal skirmishes in the city, Hyderabad Police had tasked the handling of such sensitive issues, including communal riots, to special units like the Commissioner’s Task Force. Cyberabad Police also formed units like TF, calling them Special Operations Team (SOT).

The SOT, however, is plagued with manpower shortage and suffers logistics issues. SOT units are literally few and far between, and having to cover vast areas that come under the Cyberabad Commissionerate, they find it difficult to reach the spot during crises.

When communal clashes were reported in Rajendranagar two days ago, things were no different. Cyberabad Police had to take the help of Hyderabad Police’s Task Force team to control the violence that erupted in the Arsh Mahal area following a religious flag of a particular community. It should be yet another wake-up call for Cyberabad Police to strengthen its SOT, and train it for riot-control as well to avoid recurrence of such incidents.

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