Dear Shinde & Bassi, you were asking for ruckus at Rail Bhavan

Is making a protest zone out of bound for protestors a good idea, unless you have specific intel that the men/women assembling are terrorists with a plan?

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | January 21, 2014



It was just after 9 pm on a Monday, a time Arnab Goswami must have had just welcomed his viewers to The Newshour – to another bout of controlled anarchy. The Central Secretariat station of Delhi Metro was abuzz – people going home from work. No one obviously wanted to walk out of the station at that hour. After all, it’s all government offices outside.

Or, wait, there were some. The five cops standing at one end said “order hai; upar se”. The five cops at the other end repeated after a couple of minutes it took to walk to the other end.

A walk from Patel Chowk, the next station on the return journey, to Rail Bhavan, where Arvind Kejriwal and other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders were on a sit-in protest, seeking suspension of a few police officials pending inquiry against them, elicited the same response at multiple points. Against the barricades this time; rather, these times. It was nearly 10, and many people waiting outside the barricades had begun, or were planning to begin, walking back to the nearest bus stop or the Metro station. The cops, hundreds of them, including rapid action force (RAF) men in riot gear, like their counterparts, however, were not ready to let people in – not even in ones or twos, let alone five or more, which section 144 of CrPC bars.

It was the same during last winter, when the capital was protesting the gangrape, assault and, subsequently, murder of a 23-year-old in Delhi: blocking roads and Metro (the easiest way to commute to Lutyens’ Delhi), assembling excessive force for prevent what many would have presumed was a mini-mutiny waiting to happen, seeing them wear off over a course of time and then charging at provocation (the nature of it is always debatable).

What happened on Tuesday afternoon at and near the protest site was almost predictable, then: provocation, followed by lathi-charge. It is always amusing how the authorities read the script wrong – each and every time. The more you frustrate, literally taunt, people from getting to their destination – be it a protest, agitation or simply their office home or attend to some other chore – the more you inadvertently provoke them to provoke the cops, by then literally dog-tired, having been posted there for hours. And the more the cops are provoked, the bigger the chances that they would let their canes walk the walk and talk the talk.

Shinde got it wrong near the same spot nearly a year ago. He got the script wrong again. What he, and Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi, forgot it that policing is better left as a noun, and too much of it as a verb is best left for a police state.

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