Before the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, 25 per cent of Delhi’s police personnel were on ‘VIP duty’. While 45,000 policemen, working in shifts, policed a megalopolis of 1.8 crore people, 15,000 other policemen guarded the lives and limbs of a relatively tiny but undisclosed number of VIPs.
After the terror in Mumbai, we were told, the priorities had changed. Policing was, purportedly, reorganised on a people-first principle. The security requirements of VIPs were reassessed. Some were entirely stripped of their police cover.
The police manpower thus freed was used to set up more police stations. And in every police station, an anti-terrorism officer (ATO) was appointed.
On paper, 20 VIPs have been stripped of fulltime police protection.
Altogether, 700 police personnel have been relieved of VIP duties, and 40 new police stations have been set up to improve policing.
But for a city the size of Delhi, these numbers are but a drop in the ocean.
Against 45,000 police personnel earlier, the common people of the city now have 45,700 — an increase of 1.5 per cent — to protect them.
Back to basics
The police now claim they have strengthened ‘ground-level’ policing. Beat constables are their ‘new’ intelligence gatherers.
The police have also bought new weapons and vehicles. Apart from basic policing, the focus now is to prevent terror attacks and minimise collateral damage (civilian casualties during anti-terror operations).
“(After the Mumbai attacks) Government sanctioned new police stations and increased the manpower,” said Rajan Bhagat, spokesman, Delhi Police.
The existing policemen underwent commando training and specialised hit teams were prepared.
“These commandos are equipped to handle any kind of attack. A dedicated team of police officers has been trained on the lines of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams in the US,” said an officer.
Police claim they have positioned armoured vehicles equipped
with grenades, sophisticated weapons, extra ammunitions and bullet-proof jackets at all important locations like India Gate, Connaught Place, Saket, Vasant Vihar and Lajpat Nagar, among others.