Seniors calm young guns at protest

 Had it not been for the interventions by senior Delhi Police officers who repeatedly stressed on “patience” and “discipline”, there could have been several clashes between young policemen and protesters on Tuesday.

Many policemen deployed at the site of Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna said they were repeatedly provoked, abused and stoned by the protesters, but they restrained themselves.

“Many of these police personnel are young blood. They would have beaten up some of these protesters for abusing them and repeatedly shouting slogans against police from behind the barricades. But their seniors kept meeting and telling them to exercise restraint,” said a police officer who was not authorised to speak to the media.

Mukesh Kumar Meena, Joint Commissioner of Police (New Delhi Range), insisted that police were “controlling themselves” despite repeated provocation.

On several occasions, protesters were seen shouting on the face of senior police officers who stood in their way when they wanted to move beyond a certain point. But police officers chose to stand mute, not responding, lest it gave them an opportunity to make allegations on police.

Most of the Delhi Police personnel were unarmed throughout, with the central Sashastra Seema Bal force carrying batons.

“They have been shouting slogans that Delhi Police personnel are thieves. We are a part of the same society the protesters have come from. Better than average people join our forces. But I have ordered my men not to get provoked,” said S B S Tyagi, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi District).

He said the AAP supporters looked to pick fights with police at the slightest pretext.
“At the barricades, we checked those entering with food and blankets so that anti-social elements did not enter the place. Though we allowed almost all of them after verifying if they were genuine protesters, they chose to use this opportunity to pick fights with police,” alleged Tyagi.

Even before Kejriwal called off the dharna, Delhi Police had made it clear that they would do anything to make sure Republic Day parade was not disrupted.
“We will go to any extent within the law to ensure uninterrupted preparations for the Republic Day,” Meena said.

Meanwhile, the protests turned out to be a “learning experience” for some relatively inexperienced officers of the Indian Police Services and the Delhi Andaman and Nicobar Pondicherry cadres. Tyagi said 13 cadres of IPS 2012 batch and 14 of DANP 2011 batch were being guided by him on practical ways to deal with crowds of such magnitude.

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