'Jasbir would've lived had he followed set drill'

'Jasbir would've lived had he followed set drill'

The two policemen who faced gunfire on Monday had not followed the standard operating procedure of first frisking the suspects for possible weapons.

But officials add it is not always possible to follow the set drill in a city like Delhi. And, there is difference of opinion in the force on whether frisking was possible under the circumstances faced by constables Jagbir and Narendra in outer Delhi during the wee hours of Monday.

Jasbir was shot dead and his companion seriously injured when they stopped a three-wheeler carrying some burglars, and asked them to head to the nearby Vijay Vihar police station. The burglars were later found to be carrying three country-made pistols.

Officials say that policemen are supposed to immediately caution people that they are in the “suspected category” if their behaviour is suspicious.

They should be told they would be searched. If they are in a vehicle, they should be told to move away from it and put their hands either up, on their necks or on the vehicle.

All through, a policeman must stand about 10 feet away from the suspects and keep a gun pointed at them while they are being checked for weapons  by another official.

An officer probing into the case said it was an “error of judgment” on the part of the constables. There was the danger of one or two suspects escaping while being frisked, but they wouldn’t have opened fire if there was a gun pointed at them, argues the officer.

The two policemen happened to be armed. So they would have been in a position of advantage throughout.

The officer said there were four men in the back seat of the auto and the two policemen were almost hanging outside – holding on to the auto while it was supposedly being driven to the police station.

In this situation, they couldn't have saved themselves had the attackers pulled out a pistol. This is exactly what happened. The officer insists that every police personnel under him follows the rule of frisking a suspect first. 

“The large number of weapons often recovered by police is because the suspects are immediately frisked,” the officer said. But some others differ. Another officer said the intention of the constables was to confine the suspects inside the auto,
and they thought they had them under control as they were on either side of the criminals. The official also pointed at  `restrictions' on  police in India, compared to “some other countries” They can't shoot at a suspect simply for not stopping when ordered. 

“Here policemen know they cannot open fire at suspects unless they are being attacked or until the suspects are wanted for murder and such crimes,” another officer said.

This meant that suspects in Monday's case would have fled, even if a gun was pointed at them, the argument goes.