NEW DELHI: India's celebrated top cops endorse the common view that Delhi Police were mute spectators to the violence which led to bloody communal riots in the national capital during US President Donald Trump's maiden visit to India earlier this week.
Former Delhi Police Commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma said, "Had I been the Commissioner, at any cost I would not have allowed the rioters to take the law into their hands, no matter if I was transferred or terminated by the government."
On Delhi Police' utter failure to control the riots, former Border Security Force (BSF) DGP Prakash Singh said, "The disgrace brought to the uniform by (Delhi Police Commissioner) Amulya Patnaik is unpardonable. I really feel pity for him."
Regarding the alleged delayed response time of the police in reaching the scenes of riots, former Uttar Pradesh DGP Vikram Singh said, "Delhi Police acted like a rainbow. It appeared after the storm (riots) passed away."
On Amulya Patnaik's leadership role which is under heavy criticism, Vikram Singh quipped, "When Napoleon marched along with his force, he always marched ahead of the infantry. Here Patnaik and his key officials were missing (from the spot)."
On failing to take tough action against the rioters in the first 48 hours after the riots broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24, former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar told IANS, "Seeing all sorts of weapons used in the violence, it appears to me that these riots were pre-planned. However, the police, despite having a robust security apparatus, was not at all prepared to take on the rioters. Yeh police ki nalayki hai."
When celebrated IPS officer B.S. Bedi (87), the former police chief of Jammu and Kashmir, was asked how a demonstration over CAA turned into ugly riots in the national capital, the octogenarian cop said, "A stitch in time saves nine. Had the police sorted out the Jafrabad controversy in time (relating to protest), the situation would not have slipped out of Patnaik's control. It looks as if the police could not assess the scale of violence, and its intelligence seems to have failed."
On asked about political pressure and interference in police work, Bedi said that it is a misnomer. "In any given law and order situation, the boss is the Commissioner, not the Minister. Political bosses never interfere in such grim situations," he said.
While speaking with former Delhi Police Commissioner T.R. Kakkar, IANS posed a question to him, "If you were the Commissioner, what action would you have taken in the given situation?"
"I would have taken the toughest action in the initial hours of the violence. Minimum use of force and inadequate deployment of jawans led to total chaos. The image of the police has taken a beating in the eyes of the world, as all bad things happened in the capital when the US President was on a state visit. The weapons and petrol bombs recovered from certain premises reveal that the violence was planned. The Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor reacted late."
When asked was the prolonged protest at Shaheen Bagh for weeks one of the reasons behind the simmering communal tension in the national capital, Ajai Raj Sharma said, "Had I been in place of the present Commissioner (Amulya Patnaik), I would have shifted the protesters to the adjoining park. The loose rope given to the protesters by the cops to block a busy road for such a long period was a wrong decision."
Prakash Singh and Vikram Singh also agreed that the police did not take the road blockade in Shaheen Bagh seriously, which subsequently became an Achilles heel for the administration.