In protest capital Delhi, riot police soup up their water power

  • Karn Pratap Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 07, 2015 01:23 IST

Delhi Police will procure advanced Turkish water cannons that proved their efficacy in mob control during the 2013 Istanbul uprising as the city witnesses an average 20 demonstrations, sit-ins and rallies every day, some of which turn violent.

Senior officers on Thursday said the police department has initiated the process of replacing outdated water cannons with Toma, an advanced armoured vehicle designed especially for riot control.

The computer-controlled Turkish water cannons are 10 times more effective than the ones currently being used by Delhi Police. It holds up to 10,000 litres of water that can be ejected at speed and force five times more than the city police’s current lot, which are locally designed and assembled.

“Nobody can withstand a Toma’s high-velocity stream of water. The pressure from the high-tech cannon helps police restrict protesters from moving forward. It is the best alternative to lethal firearms,” said Rajesh Malik, special commissioner of police (provision and logistics).

He said the advanced system would strengthen city police’s anti-riot cell as Toma comes equipped with options such as water, dye, tear gas and foam mixtures for crowd control.

The dye helps police identify protesters and book them under appropriate sections of law.

“The colour sprayed on protesters will remain for 24 hours even if he tries to wash it off repeatedly. This will help us avoid unwanted controversies such as allegations of booking innocent people,” Malik said.

The option of spraying foam was another advantage as the chemical mixture sticks to a protester and immobilises him. But Delhi Police won’t use the material as it has choked protesters to death in some instances.

“Our priority is always to control the situation without using firearms. Hence, we are in the process of procuring advanced non-lethal equipment,” Malik said.

Turkish riot police used Toma — short for Toplumsal Olaylara Müdahale Araci that translates into intervention vehicle to social events — during the 18-day occupation of Istanbul’s Gezil park in the summer of 2013.

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