The Delhi Police on Tuesday mounted a surprising defence of the crackdown on anti-rape protesters at India Gate. They claimed there was an intelligence input of terrorists entering the high-security area posing as protesters.
“The situation would have worsened in case of a terrorist attack, and therefore, the decision to clear the area was taken,” said a senior police officer who did not wish to be named.
“We had a specific intelligence input that terrorists would try to mingle with the crowd to carry out an attack. This was one of the several reasons why we used force to clear the India Gate area,” the officer added.
Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar confirmed the intelligence input, but declined to share the details. He said the force was hoping for the situation to return to normal by Wednesday.
According to sources in Delhi Police, the input was received on Saturday. All district DCPs were immediately sent to Lutyens’ Delhi and told to take 100 men each.
“The crowd (on Saturday and Sunday) was leaderless and in groups. It was difficult to convince them that there was a threat to the whole movement. We tried to talk to few of them, but in vain,” said another police officer, who also did not wish to be identified.
Those at the receiving end of the police stick, however, did not buy the “terrorist threat” defence.
“The biggest threat to this country is from men who rape and the police who lathicharge innocent old women. By claiming that the area had to be cleared because there was a threat of a terrorist attack, the police are just trying to defend their act,” Poornima, one of the protesters trapped in Sunday’s crackdown, said.