UP police stocking up lathis ahead of Ayodhya verdict

The state government has sanctioned Rs 72.5 crore for largescale purchase of 'lathis' to deal with any unruly mobs in case they hit the streets in the wake of the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute slated for September 24, a senior police officer told PTI.

"Though the state police is armed with the latest weaponry, the number of 'lathis', considered to be the best mob control equipment, is lacking in the force. Now, the state government has sanctioned Rs 72.5 crore for its purchase before September 24," he said.

Of the sanctioned amount, Rs 50 crore is for the police force, Rs 16 crore for home guards and Rs 6.5 crore for Prantiya Raksha Dal (PRD) jawans, he said.Besides lathis, helmets with face guards, body protectors and shields will also be purchased with the sanctioned amount as they are required to control the mob in case of a riot-like situation.

The modernisation of the force over the years and use of relatively more advanced equipment had pushed lathis, which were synonymous with the police till the 1990s into oblivion, the officer said.

"While much emphasis was laid on equipping the police force with modern weaponry like AK 47, Insas rifles, bullet proof jackets and head gears, not much attention was paid to augmenting the traditional equipment," he said.

However, the state police realised the importance of the "infamous" lathis during review meetings held of late to assess security arrangements in view of the upcoming court verdict on the Ayodhya title suits and the festival season, the official said.

During meetings it was pointed out by officials that traditional devices like lathis were the best to tackle mobs during protests and riot-like situations and there was a shortage of it in the department, he said.

For the state police one lakh lathis, body protectors and helmets each will be procured, he said, adding that police headquarters in Allahabad has been authorised to purchase these equipment. Similarly, 40,000 lathis/polycarbonated sticks, a similar number of body protectors and 40,000 torches will be purchased for homeguards, whereas 20,000 lathis and a similar number of poly shields would be procured for PRD jawans.

The officer said that a wooden lathi from Rampur cost around Rs 300 per piece whereas the polycarbonated sticks costs between Rs 500 to Rs 700 each."Instead of Rampuri lathis, the police department will be going for the polycarbonated sticks as they cause less internal injuries and are more effective", he said.

"A helmet with face guard costs around Rs 450, body protectors come for Rs 2,000 per piece and polycarbonated shield for Rs 1600," the officer said.

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