New Delhi: The police versus lawyers issue in Delhi that started over the week-end spun out of control today as hundreds of policemen held a protest outside the Delhi police headquarters, demanding justice and protection. Service rules bar policemen from holding protests and the unprecedented demonstration had the Centre on its toes and caught the attention of the courts. The Delhi High Court issued a notice to the top lawyers’ bodies — the Bar Councils of India and Delhi. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal held a meeting at his home to review the situation. The home ministry called for a report. By evening, the police from Haryana, Bihar and several other states extended support to their colleagues in Delhi.
- Hundreds of policemen gathered outside the police headquarters since morning, blocking an arterial road of the city. The policemen are upset over what they perceive as a lack of the government’s concern about their well-being. Cutting across parties, many political leaders happen to be former lawyers, few come from the police.
- The lack of any political response to Saturday’s clash at a Delhi court, when at least 20 policemen were injured, brought on the crisis. Many of the assembled policemen said they fear being targetted when in uniform.
- The protesting officers submitted a list of 10 demands, which include the creation of a Police Protection Act. The families of the policemen, meanwhile, held a protest at the India Gate.
- The Delhi Police are under the control of the Union Home Ministry. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who is the Centre’s representative in Delhi, has called a meeting with officials of the Delhi Police.
- What had also upset the policemen was the lack of any initiative on behalf of the police after the Delhi High Court transferred two officers and suspended two others over Saturday’s clash. At an emergency hearing yesterday, the court had ordered a judicial probe. It also said no coercive action can be taken against advocates, who initially called a day’s strike and then withdrew it.
- Ordering the Bar Councils to ask their members to exercise restraint, the Delhi High Court today asked them to file a response by Wednesday, when the matter will be heard.
- Union Minister Kiren Rijiju initially tweeted that being a cop was a “thankless job”, but the tweet was later deleted. “Being a cop is a thankless job. But they don’t do it for thanks. Police officers put their lives on the line every day. They are damned if they do, and damned even if they don’t. What gets lost in all the anti-police rhetoric is the family left at home while a policeman serves,” the deleted tweet read.
- The Indian Police Service tweeted its support, saying: “Incident involving police and lawyers unfortunate. All should take a balanced view of it based on facts in public domain. Countrywide, police stands in solidarity with those police personnel subjected to physical assault and humiliation. Condemn all attempts to break law, by anyone!”
- Congress leader Randeep Surjewala backed the police protest. “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,” he posted on Twitter.
- At least 20 policemen and eight lawyers were injured and 20 vehicles were vandalised in Saturday’s clash at Tis Hazari court, which started over a wrongly parked vehicle. The attack was followed by another violent confrontation on Monday, when a policeman was slapped and beaten outside Saket District Court by a group of lawyers.
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