Delhi police decided to err on the side of caution for Anna Hazare’s one-day fast at Rajghat on Wednesday, their numbers appearing to match the turnout for the social activist’s agitation against the crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s anti-corruption stir.
The zero-risk approach of Delhi police was apparently formed on the basis of lessons learnt during Saturday’s extended post-midnight crackdown on Ramdev’s stir at Ramlila ground, less than 2 km from Rajghat.
A phone call stating intelligence inputs on Ramdev being on his way to join Hazare, sent the police into a tizzy for about an hour, during which three deputy commissioners of police rushed to oversee the installation of barricades around the area.
“Ramdev did not arrive, but police cordoned the entire area, towed away wrongly parked vehicles and each person going towards the protest site was thoroughly checked,” said a senior police officer who did not want to be named.
Earlier, the Delhi police, including their chief, were on their toes even before Hazare’s eight-hour fast actually began.
“As many as 700 officers were deployed to maintain law and order,” said Rajan Bhagat, additional deputy commissioner of police and spokesperson, Delhi police.
Police commissioner BK Gupta reached Rajghat around 8am and looked into the phased implementation of deployment before the joint commissioner of police (northern range), Sudhir Yadav, took charge.
Police companies could be seen marching up and down the Kisan Ghat Road to secure the entire perimeter even as an elaborate entry-cum-exit procedure was put in place.
Many people at Hazare’s fast, who were also present at the Ramlila ground when police swooped down post-midnight on Saturday, asked senior police officers to explain the strong police action against Ramdev.
Surender Sharma, 55, a resident of Gokulpuri in northeast Delhi, said: “I remembered Yadav from the other night so I just approached him and asked him why the police had indulged in brutality on Saturday. He was forthcoming and explained the police action. It may not have meant much to him, but for people like us, his explanation seemed like a good beginning as far as public-police interaction is concerned.”