Dozens of police personnel marched to the Delhi police headquarters at ITO on Tuesday morning to protest their leadership’s handling of recent instances of policemen being assaulted during clashes with lawyers since Saturday. The protest by police personnel is a rare sight, driven by what they said was the need to remind their senior officers to stand united and deal with the assault against the men in Khaki.
They didn’t raise slogans, create a ruckus or make any demands but wore black bands on their arms and hoped to get the message across. Some of them did carry placards that asked for justice and underscored their low morale.
“How is the Josh? Low, Sir”, one placard read, inspired by the dialogue in the movie, Surgical Strike, that was also invoked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stress the high morale among security personnel and the public after the 2016 strike on terror pads in Pakistan.
No senior Delhi Police officer has issued a statement on the protest by their juniors.
But there have been voices from several serving and retired police officers on social media to voice their concern about the treatment of policemen during and after the clashes with lawyers.
On Saturday, the police and lawyers were involved in a violent clash at Tis Hazari court following a parking dispute. The violence had left at least 20 policemen injured even as lawyers said at least 40 of them too were hurt. On Sunday, the High Court took up the matter and ordered the transfer of two senior police officers, the suspension of two other officers and compensation to the injured lawyers.
No similar action against the lawyers was ordered and no compensation given to the injured policemen. “ The videos were evident but the court did not pass any order against lawyers, “ one of the protesting officers said. Another said they were upset with Delhi chief Minister for siding with the lawyers and for not meeting the injured police officers.
There were many incidents of policemen being allegedly beaten up by lawyers on Monday, the first day of lawyers’ strike over their clash with the police. A video showed a constable in uniform being repeatedly slapped and elbowed by lawyers outside the Saket court. All that the policeman could do was escape on his motorcycle.
The lawyers on Monday had also allegedly attacked many others as well, including journalists, litigants, drivers. The police chose to watch from a safe distance. At Tis Hazari court, some policemen kept themselves locked in the court’s lock-up.
A message shared by the police to call their colleagues to gather outside the PHQ read: “Our silent gathering is supposed to make more effect and it will empower our seniors but any protest, violence, misbehave or anything wrong will not only malign our image in public but also supposed to create a problem for seniors”.
Policemen attending the protest said that they expected their seniors to stand by them in these times. “ Hardly any senior officer even visited our colleagues injured in the clash with lawyers,” said a policeman, refusing to identify himself.
Another said that they expected senior officers to take a stand for them in court and elsewhere. “Lawyers beat us up and taunted us even on Monday. We couldn’t even defend ourselves out of fear that we would be suspended or dismissed,” said another.
IPS officers who have served with the Delhi Police have been vocal on social media about the treatment meted out to their personnel.
Aslam Khan, an IPS officer who has served in the national capital in the past, took to Twitter to question the Delhi Police’s response to the assaults on policemen. “Khaki going down to the worse,” she tweeted while sharing the video of a policeman getting beaten up.
Neeraj Kumar, the former police commissioner, said the video of the policeman being beaten up gave the impression that “there is no rule of law and the police are people meant to be beaten up”.
“There is no rule of law and the police seem redundant. This is a most reprehensible situation and something needs to be done urgently. Also, if one section (advocates) of the society doesn’t bother about the law, all other people will think why should they care about the law,” said Kumar.