Chennai: Even as the opposition politicians and rights activists have slammed the TN government and the police for the firing on anti-Sterlite protesters at Thoothukudi on May 22, which resulted in 13 deaths, senior police officials actively involved in multiple law and order operations argue that 'arm-chair' analysis in 'cool' situations hardly reflect ground realties in any riot area.
The debate has come alive yet again in the context of the CBI now registering cases against 'unknown' police and revenue officials for that firing incident.
For instance, a former Superintendent of Police has come out strongly in support of the police action and has rubbished all the slamming done by the activists/critics who have cried foul seeing TV/video visuals of snipers in plainclothes taking aim at the protesters and firing at marked targets rather than at the rioting mob. The critics argue that police had violated the norm that firing should not cause injury above the hip.
"The Police Standing Order (PSO) says 'preferably aim below the waist/hip' when firing at rioting mob, but that is only a suggestion and advisory, and not mandatory. No action can be taken if the bullet hits above the waist in a riot situation. You cannot fault the police because he is handling a moving target and that too, a violent one. He must fire to stop the person from indulging in further violence and destruction", said M. Karunanidhi, retired SP (Security).
"The police open fire to control extreme violence. They aim at someone identified as leading the violent mob. One has to experience the critical situation of handling a violent mob to understand how it is; it's easy to do postmortem criticism from distant cozy corners", said the officer. As for the allegation that "only" a deputy tahsildar gave the order to shoot, Karunanidhi said, "deputy tahsildar is an executive magistrate and is authorised to give the firing order"....