Policemen seek numbers as stirs ‘more violent now’

When clashes began on R-Day, officers gathered in despair and resignation: DCP

Published - January 29, 2021 12:43 am IST - NEW DELHI

Following the violence that erupted in the Capital on Republic day, Delhi Police officers have become a worried lot. Many officials feel that it has become a public perception that a protest is only successful when the police is beaten up. “We are not left with an ounce of self-respect” — is a common feeling among some policemen after January 26.

A Sub-Inspector (SI), who was posted at ITO during the violence, said looking at the video of policemen jumping from the wall at Red Fort, he was reminded of the Jallianwala Bagh incident. “This was probably how and why people jumped into the well. Thankfully, here police officials didn’t die,” he said.

The officer said the nature of protests haschanged over the past couple of years. “Unline before when protesters could be controlled using police vehicles as barricades. The protests and protesters have become more violent,” he said, adding that there is a huge need for better equipment and allowances.

A Head Constable, who was posted at the Red Fort, said if the force had equipment like spike barriers then tractors wouldn’t have been able to move. “Better riot gear is an absolute must. All we have is a lathi and poor-quality helmets,” he said.

Many seek allowance

Some officials said there is a need for Risk and Hardship Allowance for personnel. “Senior officers and Home Minister (HM) meeting the injured policemen is good but do something for us. Risk and Hardship allowance is given to paramilitary forces then why not us? Riot training should also be introduced. The old techniques don’t work anymore,” said another SI.

“Often, the HM has appreciated us, saying we work with limited resources. Why not increase the number? In a force of 90,000, 30,000 each were deployed for Republic Day and protest sites and others were managing over 200 police stations,” he said.

A DCP said: “It’s an itch to reclaim the lost pride”. He said the force was aware that things will not go as planned but as a “disciplined and obedient force”, they went ahead by putting up barricades. When the violence began, he said, the force gathered in “despair and resignation”. “Despair because what they had anticipated was now being witnessed and resignation because of being briefed, trained and drilled over and over into ‘no use of force’.”

The officer recalled making calls to check on colleagues and getting asked questions like, “Why were these people allowed to take out a march when no one trusted their intent, words and body language? Why did we not ensure that in case of a battle, it is fought only at Singhu border?”

A Constable said officials were told to use minimum or no force. “That is why we flee and next time, this is what we will do, we will run away at the possible moment,” he said, adding: We are beaten up everyone — be it lawyers, students, anti-CAA protestors or anyone,” he added.

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