Unarmed policemen kept distance from mob

‘Why were we deployed during the riots with just a cane and body protection?’

As mobs ran riot in north-east Delhi on February 23, Head Constable with the Armed Police Deepak Dhaiya confronted the armed men with just a cane in hand.

Facing an onslaught of rioters, Mr. Dhaiya appealed to his colleagues to control the miscreants, but instead of helping the constable, the policemen stopped Mr. Dhaiya from taking further action as they were unarmed.

As mobs vandalised and damaged property, most of the policemen remained on the backfoot even as several shops were set alight right in front of them.

With just a cane for defence, the policemen were apprehensive of taking on men that were carrying stones and weapons.

Low morale

Most of the lower-rank policemen that The Hindu talked to said the force was already suffering from low morale after several incidents saw policemen get severe punishment while the perpetrators walked away “scot-free”.

A policeman, who wished not to be named, said that in June 2019, a video had gone viral of two constables beating up a Sikh tempo driver in Mukherjee Nagar after “he attacked them with a sword”.

The policemen were dismissed from service, but the tempo driver was never arrested, he added.

Another policeman, who was deployed in Maujpur during the violence, said he and his colleagues do not take any action unless they get specific orders from senior officers, “because in the end us lower ranks suffer”. “Why were we deployed during the riots with just a cane and body protection? We also have families... no one wants to get killed. I was issued no long-range weapon. You cannot stop a mob with teargas and a cane,” he added.

An Inspector-rank officer said that in the November 2019 Tis Hazari incident, when police and lawyers clashed, a special commissioner-rank officer was removed from his post and a policeman was thrashed by lawyers at Saket Courts, but the accused were never arrested. “The riots could have been prevented if the police had opened fire on Day One. A policeman was killed and a DCP was brutally thrashed by the mob but still we waited for direction from seniors,” added the officer.

Several policemen said that the Delhi Police was also in a leadership crisis when the violence broke out.

A senior police officer added that the incident revealed the complete failure of the police’s intelligence network, which failed to assess the preparation of the rioters.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 4:00:25 PM |

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