Hyderabad: Turmoil within communities, migration of families from insecure areas, crowded market places suddenly thinning out while locals make heavy purchases of provisions — they are the usual indicators of brewing trouble that should bother every police officer.
But the Delhi police, with its worst performance in decades after riots in Northeast Delhi left 38 dead and over 300 injured, appears to have failed in the very basics of policing.
It paid little attention to advance indicators of a deteriorating situation. It failed to make a rapid assessment of the “crowd psychology” which plays a key role in crowd control. It failed to adhere to the “riot drill” where the final option is to open fire. It also failed in maintaining a rapport the top brass and men on the ground — indicating poor leadership.
These glaring lapses came up for discussion during meetings held between senior police officials with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Sources privy to the developments after Doval’s “surprise visit” to the riot-hit areas told Deccan Chronicle that the presence of US President Donald Trump and his family in New Delhi “weighed heavily” on the minds of the top brass, who had no clarity on how to deal with a rapidly developing tense situation just kilometres away from where Melania Trump was attending the ‘happiness class.’
While men on the ground had an inkling that all was not well, the top brass led by Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik was reportedly confused till the last minute, which contributed to the lack of rapport. “It was a free for all where groups soon swelled into mobs and went on a rampage — killing people, burning houses and establishments and going on a rampage — completely unchallenged,” sources said.
“The communal distrust was felt by police on the ground, but it did not lead to strategies to tackle the situation. Not assessing crowd psychology to gauge how aggressive the crowd was, particularly with evidence that the violence was pre-planned, has ended up in death and destruction. The Delhi police’s reputation was never this low,” sources said, adding that the quantum of force and the efforts needed increase progressively with delay.
“The riot drill says that after the options of tear gas and caning, police on the ground can open fire if the mob goes berserk. It is strange that in a situation where dozens were killed, police chose not to open fire which allowed the mobs a free run,” sources said.