Multiple sources questioned the Delhi Police’s ability to restore peace in riot-affected regions. There have been allegations of police not intervening despite the fact that they were present when the violence culminated in murders. Even when intelligence reports requested for more soldiers to avoid the tense situation from deteriorating further, they were claimed to have been delayed in deploying personnel. The pattern of crimes caused by criminal elements proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the violence expanded due to the Delhi Police’s inability to delegate its fundamental and primary duty. The recent 2019 communal riots in Delhi, which led to the deaths of over 42 innocent people, major injuries to over 200 others, and the destruction of private and public property worth millions of rupees, brings into question the role of law and order, notably the police.
While it is well acknowledged that political parties would use communal cards to further their political objectives and reap electoral rewards, the general public expects and hopes that the state machinery, particularly the police, will protect their lives.
A detailed examination of the pattern of violence conducted by criminal elements with political support and assistance proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the violence expanded due to the Delhi Police’s failure to delegate its fundamental and primary duty. It failed to keep the peace in NorthEast Delhi, where communal tensions had been simmering for some time. The Delhi Police’s credibility, which has been eroding for some time, has now reached a new low. At least six signals were made to Delhi Police on Sunday, February 23, warning of possible communal violence after Anti-CAA protesters had stopped a road in the vicinity, causing traffic congestion, according to BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who called for a rally in Maujpur.
Despite having information on the escalation of tensions, why did the Delhi Police not intervene sooner to avert the threat is a question that begs an answer. Another policy lapse for which the Delhi police must account is the failure to take hate mongers into preventive custody.
ROLE OF POLICE IN DELHI RIOTS
The government’s role was restricted to policing, in which the Delhi Police failed miserably due to a lack of experience and guidance. Police either retaliated excessively or preferred to keep their hands clean. Due to a lack of expertise and guidance, the Delhi Police failed terribly in policing. Not only did the police lose people, but they also lost control of the situation. People in North East Delhi, according to reports from both sides of the rioting, have little faith in the ability of the Delhi Police to handle the current communal issue.
Rioters brandishing firearms in front of Delhi Police officers exposed the city’s police force’s lack of credibility and authority. In a number of videos circulating on social media, protesters can be seen pelting the opposing group with stones from the side where police are present. Rioters of any kind are not allowed to be or appear to be on the same side as Police.
DUTIES OF POLICE IN RIOTS
Article 246 of the Constitution gives state governments direct authority over concerns of “public order” and “police.” However, when the state apparatus is overburdened, the constitution authorizes the Centre to give required help. The Ministry of Home Affairs sends out units of the Central Armed Police Forces to assist state police in restoring order. A renowned Delhi-based think group, the Observer Research Foundation, recently released a paper on dealing with violent civic unrest. Information, intention, method, logistics, and communication are five critical factors that local police and security personnel must consider when establishing a plan of action, according to the report.1
Information on the nature of the incident, the cause for its occurrence, and the grievances that it drives are crucial among other aspects. Depending on the nature of the occurrence, a clear assessment allows the police to establish a cohesive policy. Effective logistics, such as the availability of appropriate riot gear, traffic route control to provide rapid medical emergency assistance, and the presence of sufficient personnel at crucial spots, among other things, necessitates careful diligence. Finally, the police must maintain a regular channel of communication with the general public, which will be aided by continuous media coverage.
There are provisions in the legislation that empower authorities to take preventive or punitive measures, including arrest, against those who are preparing for an unlawful gathering. In addition to Sections 141 to 190 of the Indian Penal Code, state police can use Sections 149 to 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to deal with key instigators of violent protests. The speed with which the State responds determines the success of all of these efforts.
1 https://www.thebetterindia.com/129374/violent-protests-riots-police-reforms/ Accessed on 21st July,2021