Delhi protests proved a boon for trainee police officers
The Delhi Police may have cursed Arvind Kejriwal for giving them a tough time, but the bizarre protest drama played out by the chief minister in the past couple of days proved to be a good training ground for freshly-minted young police officers.
Twenty-seven trainee officers of the Indian Police Service (IPS) and Delhi and Andaman and Nicobar Islands Police Service (DANIPS) of the 2012 batch got a fine lesson in crowd management as they were deputed at the protest site where Kejriwal and his supporters staged their sit-in for over 30 hours.
The DANIPS officers get posted to India's six union territories, as also Delhi and Goa. Of the 27, 13 were from the IPS and 14 from DANIPS. There were three women officers among them.
According to Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) S.B.S. Tyagi, for all these raw officers, the protests provided the ideal training ground in the practicals of crowd management. "They are the future of our force and this was a good learning experience for them," Tyagi told IANS.
These officers were seen moving around the protest site near Rail Bhavan, in the heart of Delhi and near the Parliament House, which was barricaded from six sides.
They attended the "training" on both the days - till the protest ended Tuesday night after Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung appealed to Kejriwal to end it in view of the Republic Day parade on Jan 26. Jung also said that two policemen have been sent on leave. Kejriwal was demanding action against five cops who did not heed to his ministers.
Speaking to IANS, M Harsh Vardhan, an trainee IPS, said: "We experienced various simulations in our training so far. We attended major events like the Allahabad Kumbh Mela and the Karnataka elections but such a police-protester face-off we saw for the first time."
A woman police officer, who did not want to be identified, said that they had gained first-hand experience in crowd management.
"Our physical training has ended. We are learning the skills of crowd management. Such a large gathering of people in such tense situations was a good learning experience," she told IANS.
Senior police officers interacted with them at the spot and gave them tips on how to coordinate with junior policemen and the paramilitary forces to manage the crowd. They were also told how to calm the crowd and how to handle women protesters.
In fact, they watched on when the protesters clashed with policemen, taunted them and even abused them. Some of the protesters also pelted stones and the police retaliated by pushing them back, leading to 30 people getting injured.
Another trainee police officer said: "We have to just watch the protest and mentally keep in mind the steps we have to take in similar situations and how to behave with the crowd at times of tension."
These officials were at the end of their one-year training programme.
"After the training they will be posted as assistant commissioners of police (ACPs) in Delhi and other UTs during probation for a few months. They will later get regular postings," said another officer.
(Alok Singh can be contaced at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 22-01-2014)