Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crowd Control: Failure of police in controlling mobs, readiness to fire at protesters, irresponsibility of media and indifference of society

Water cannons seldom called to disperse crowd
Six youths were killed in police firing in Masuri in Ghaziabad, an incident that could have been avoided, had police taken action earlier on the complaints of citizens.

Once again there was no serious attempt to tackle the protesters through the alternative methods of crowd control.

Sadly, in independent India, people are fired, straight in heads and chest, something which is unthinkable in other countries.

Every year police department in all states buy equipment and goods for controlling mob and for tackling law-and-order related situations

But none of them are used. Even when crowd surges over several hours, the 'water cannon' or similar other vehicles are not called. The death of 14-year-old Luqman who was killed by a bullet, has been reported by India Express in a sensitively written report AT THIS LINK. Heart-rending stories.

No one justifies violence but the manner in which citizens are shot, raises serious questions about the training of our policemen, as well as apathy of society, politicians and citizens. When groups broke railway lines or when political outfits attacked North Indians, did police mull firing?

How to control crowd:

1. Water cannon

2. Use of tear gas [or pepper sprays]

3. Lathi charge

4. Firing rubber bullets

5. Gushots in the air

Generally, if police use first or second method, the crowd is dispersed. In fact, when rubber bullets are used or tear gas shells exploded, it gives the impact of firing and the people feel firing has begun, thus they get dispersed.

But generally, cops never use all these steps, and leaving all these five ways, goes to the SIXTH AND FINAL DEGREE. This is shooting at people, which is inhuman. Of course, above mentioned options are used when political parties go on rampage.

Or when Anna Hazare's supporters get violent even in the most high-security zone in Delhi. But they are treated with kid gloves. Otherwise, in rest of the country, it's usual. The policemen have the licence to: Shoot and Kill.

Sadly, there is no outrage over how readily police fire on citizens. They fire quite early on certain groups while remain mute spectators in certain other cases. Apart from water cannons, the use of rubber pellets and tear gas should be done properly.

The economic condition of the protesters often plays a role in shaping the police perception. [They know it well that which kind of crowd is capable of later making their lives hell and which group won't be able to do anything].

Just like the poor continue to be hit with lathi [baton] by our police personnel. In fact, we curse General Dyer in our history books, but the brutality and contempt of our police towards the 'aam janta' hasn't changed much.

Has anything changed since then?
Coloured ink, which is bought by police headquarters, as it can help in identification of hooligans or troublemakers, remains stored and is seldom used. Lakhs are spent to buy pepper sprays and similar objects.

Many states in India have bought most sophisticated vans worth millions for crowd control. There are even electric shock batons and other equipment to check violent crowd.

In worst case, when crowd gets uncontrollable, they should fire in the air, or in the legs so as to avoid fatal injuries on our people.

Unfortunately this doesn't happen. Everytime, police doesn't take action for hours, sometimes even for days. Complaints not taken, FIRs not registered.

When anger builds up and police feel the situation is out of control because of their delayed action, the poorly trained cops who see particular sections of society as their 'enemies', fire straight on heads and chest.

The crowd can later be blamed for being unruly. Just like colonial masters termed us till 1947. Human rights organisations may shout but who bothers!


It is not tough to check inflamed passions if police use tact. In many cities, individual police officers forge excellent ties with respectable persons of all communities. In such troubled times, they call the main cleric or the head priest of a famous temple or a leading Muslim qazi or mosque Imam.

These people are asked to make appeal on loud speakers. It always works. When the respected person from a community, particularly, a Sant or Maulana, says that "administration is sensitive and would take action immediately. What happened was wrong and those responsible for not taking action would be punished", the crow immediately disperses.

Sadly, there is such poor policing that what happens in a police station area is not known to superiors. In fact, in most communally sensitive towns, police have used these social connections to tackle worst situations.

Teenagers, youths lost lives: No dismissals, just suspensions

In Ghaziabad incident, teenagers who were not part of the mob, were killed. Luqman went every weekend to meet his grandparents, and was shot. A youth, the first engineer in his family, and many others, who were killed in cold blood.

Even worse is the fact that when these things happen, the failure of police in mishandling the situation or their lack of proper action earlier, is forgotten. Just like 'macho middle-class' loves encounter cops and extra-judicial killings, as long as the poor are killed in jungles of Chhattisgarh, dubbed as Naxals, no one is bothered.

The cops get full support for the action of killing fellow Indians. They don't get rap. The 'mandatory' inquiries start and end soon. Departmental inquiries are eyewash--a fact everyone knows. So nothing changes and cops continue treating people in the way British treated us.

And why guilty policemen are merely suspended, not terminated (dismissed)? What about accountability of superior officers? Who gave orders for firing? What about magisterial and judicial inquiries? Sadly, our society remains indifferent towards our own rights and the mindset hasn't changed a bit in six decades after independence.


The worst is the role of media that should in fact educate and enlighten--both police and citizens, so that there is no violence on either side. But instead, a section of journalists are against any voice regarding human rights.

Not asking questions on why police couldn't control the situation, it goes ahead asking why the 'violent protesters' are yet to be caught. Apart from the sensitive stories and follow-ups by Indian Express journalists, most of the papers found no fault in 'police firing to control situation'.

Almost all of them who died were teenagers. Those who died were sif, 19, Wasim, 18, Wahid, 18, Amir, 16 and Luqman, 14. Hayat as 35. As per other reports, the number of persons killed was seven. Such tragedies can be avoided, if policemen and intelligence officials at local level work properly. Worse, it has happened in Muslim-friendly Samajwadi Party (SP) government's rule.

Few write about the plight of those who were killed for no fault. But see this report. Shouldn't the report also ask, why police killed our people? Or will cases of murder would be registered against these policemen? And why situation took such a violent turn?

Even the top officials who are trained better now and are supposed to be sensitive, scornfully talk about these 'human rights walas'. Can we blame them when society finds nothing wrong with such inhuman acts. So what about the discussions on police reforms, which we have been hearing for almost a decade now?

Similar post on this issue:

1. Indian Muslims must avoid street protests
2. Indian police: Force to safeguard the rich
3. What's wrong with our society: Innocent Kuldeep gets the bullet, guilty go scot-free
4. Police brutality: Truth of an 'encounter'
5. Killing Ranvir Singh in cold-blood in Uttarakhand