Thousands of police officers, holding placards with messages like "Save the Saviours", shouted "CP saheb, samne aao, samne aao (Police Commissioner, face us)" gathered outside Delhi Police headquarters Tuesday afternoon in an unprecedented protest after violent clashes between cops and lawyers at the city's Tis Hazari court complex on Saturday. By evening, the officers' families and children had joined the protests - they gathered at India Gate in central Delhi to hold a candlelight vigil. The lack of any political response to Saturday's clash, where at least 20 policemen were injured, brought on the crisis. Police officers were left further disheartened and angry after an attack on a policeman outside a district court in Delhi's Saket on Monday also went unpunished. The second attack, also by lawyers, was caught on a mobile phone video. Many of the assembled officers and their families said they now feared being targeted when in uniform. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal -- the Centre's representative in Delhi -- underscored the need for trust and harmony between the police and lawyers and "ensure that justice is done impartially". As the day-long protest by around 2000 policemen outside the police headquarters continued into the night, the Lieutenant Governor held a meeting with the senior officers. At the meeting, the Lieutenant Governor advised senior officers to assure the police personnel that no injustice shall be allowed to be done to any member of the force.
Hundreds of Delhi Police personnel on Tuesday staged an unprecedented protest against assault on their colleagues by lawyers at the Tis Hazari court on Saturday. While it has been a measured response by the man who is heading the police force of Delhi, loud voices of dissent reverberated the PHQ at ITO.
Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik assured of a “fair probe”, calling it “testing time for us”. But most importantly, he asked them to end stir and join back work.
As the policemen, carrying placards, raised slogans for hours outside the Police Headquarters at ITO, Patnaik finally stepped out and told them that it was “testing times for us”. He urged the policemen to join back their duties and maintain peace.
Giving a pep talk and reminding the force of their “duty”, Patnaik said, “We have to behave like a disciplined force. The government and the people expect us to uphold the law, it is our big responsibility. I urge you to resume duty.”
But those words of advice didn’t cut much ice with the protest refusing to end.
A clear divide between the seniors and juniors erupted with the many protesting policemen alleging that the top officers failed to stand by them even as they were thrashed by lawyers.
“If you beat up a cop in uniform, it’s not the person who is beaten up but the uniform that is humiliated. This will only ensure breakdown of law and order,” said a protesting police officer to media.
The overwhelming feeling from the unprecedented protest that is refusing to die down is the Police Commissioner’s word of comfort was “too little, too late”.
One policeman went ahead and demanded a fair play from the courts as well, “Did only lawyers who were thrashed who were admitted to AIIMS. We want the court to hear us out as well.”
A minor argument between a lawyer and some policemen over parking at the Tis Hazari court complex on Saturday flared up, leading to violence and arson. A lawyer was left with a bullet injury.
“Twenty policemen, including one Additional DCP and two SHOs, sustained injuries. Eight advocates were also hurt. 12 motorcycles, one police QRT gypsy and eight jail vans were damaged,” the police had claimed.
As Patnaik left the venue, the number of protestors only grew with minute. Many family members and their kids too came to the venue sporting black bands, as a mark of protest.
“Whatever is happening to cops should not have happened. It’s a fight for justice, it’s a fight for dignity”, said a lady who identified herself as a family member of a protesting cop.
The Delhi Police submitted a report to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the violence at Tis Hazari court premises. The Ministry, which directly controls Delhi Police, had sought the report from the Delhi Police just a day after the violent clashes.
A five-minute audio tape of a policeman, who was seriously injured in Saturday’s violent clashes at Tis Hazari courts, has revealed that the lady Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) present on the spot was allegedly abused and roughed up by the lawyers and a desperate attempt was made to snatch her PSO’s service revolver.
While the PSO (Personal Security Officer called ‘Operator’ in Delhi police) was thrashed with iron chains and lay unconscious on the floor, the lady DCP, Monika Bhardwaj, broke down on Sunday and wept for quite some time, the audio clip revealed.
Reliable sources said that the audio clip is part of a recorded telephone conversation between the injured PSO of the lady DCP and one of her office staff. The PSO disclosed over phone how the assault resulted in a fracture in his shoulder and injuries in his ribs and hands.
But as men in khaki came to streets and the law enforcers demanded ‘justice’ and ‘human rights’, the sentiments were raw. But the optics of it has left the nation shocked.
As hundreds of Delhi Police personnel hit the streets, the Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence) briefed Lt Governor Anil Baijal who promised that no injustice shall be allowed to be done to any member of the force.
Baijal, who has direct control of Delhi Police, was briefed on the situation arising out of the assault on some police personnel by lawyers at Tis Hazari court complex on November 2 and then near Saket court complex on Monday.
The LG directed that senior police officers should visit the injured policemen to boost their morale and comfort their families. He also directed that best possible treatment should be provided to the injured advocates and police personnel, a statement issued by Raj Niwas said.
“The LG was briefed about the situation by Special CP (Intelligence) and the orders of the Delhi High Court in the matter. Special CP also apprised that a clarificatory application is already being filed in the matter,” the statement said.
Baijal said advocates and police are important pillars of the criminal justice system who should work in complete harmony.
“In the wake of the recent unfortunate incident, it is imperative to restore the trust between the two and also to ensure that justice is done in the entire matter,” the statement said.
The LG directed the Delhi Chief Secretary to ensure that the best possible medical treatment is provided to the injured advocates as per the High Court order.
“He also directed the Commissioner of Police to ensure that the injured police officers are also provided best medical treatment free of cost and advised that senior officers should visit the injured policemen to boost their morale and comfort their families. Further, suitable ex-gratia compensation be given to the injured officers of Delhi Police as well.”
Baijal appealed to all concerned to maintain harmony and law and order.
Protesting Delhi Police personnel booed and jeered a top officer as he sought to placate them during their agitation.
The protest got a new twist as Haryana Police Association also extended its support to the agitating Delhi Police personnel.
Members of the association joined the protest at the police headquarters here, where family members of many Delhi Police personnel were also seen agitating.
Rajesh Khurana, Joint Commissioner of Police, after holding a meeting with Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik tried to speak to the agitating police personnel but he was not allowed to address by a jeering crowd.
He managed to speak a few words like “We have explained our side to the head of our family the Commissioner of the things we faced.”
He said, “We are the ones who enforce the law and we have to continue with our work” and “We must obey the law and order.”
Khurana told the policemen that “Most of the times we spend our maximum time on duty instead of giving time to our families. We even work during festivals and spend the time in field.”
However, there were loud shouts by the protesting cops like “we want justice”, which drowned out his voice and he left.
The protesting police personnel have made five demands to the Commissioner — reinstating the suspended police personnel, compensating injured police personnel, strict action against the lawyers, appeal against High Court order in the Supreme Court and verification of lawyers who attacked the police personnel.
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lashed out at the Delhi Police accusing them of having been turned into a political entity that works like an “armed wing of BJP.
In a series of tweets, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj, who is also a lawyer, alleged that the BJP has emboldened Delhi Police so much that “we are living in a Police state”.
His comment came amid an unprecedented stand-off between lawyers and police in the capital after violence over a parking dispute in the Tis Hazari court complex on Saturday.
The city government has been accusing the Delhi Police, which comes under the Union Home Ministry, of not being able to manage the law and order situation in the national capital.
“The Police is least concerned about basic law and order issues in Delhi. Police officers are so arrogant. Delhi Police has been converted into political entity and works like an armed wing of the BJP,” Bhardwaj said.
He also wished that the Advocates Bar Association had taken stand for the rights of common man. “It’s never late to do the right thing,” the AAP MLA added.
The Congress too targeted the central government, questioning whether it was “BJP’s ‘new India’.”
Congress termed the development as a new low in 72 years of the country’s Independence.
Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted: “A new low in 72 years – Police on protest in ‘National Capital of Delhi’. Is this BJP’s ‘New India’? Where will BJP take the country? Where is India’s HM, Sh. Amit Shah?
Congress earlier targeted the government over the clash between police and lawyers on Tis Hazari court premises here on November 2.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has moved the Delhi High Court seeking clarification on Sunday’s order directing that no coercive action be taken against lawyers on whom FIRs were filed in view of the clashes at Tis Hazari Court.
Delhi Police submitted a report to the Home Ministry on the November 2 incident. (IANS)