The DERC hearing on power tariff on Monday was conducted under a thick security blanket with policemen in strength deployed both inside and outside the venue.
The BJP workers had disrupted a similar public hearing last year. On Monday too the party organised a protest. Though the police claimed that the deployment was only done to ensure the hearing went on peacefully, participants were critical of heavy police presence particularly inside the PHD Chamber of Commerce auditorium in south Delhi.
The DERC claimed the police presence did not act as a deterrent. "Nobody was affected by the police presence except for the anti-social elements who wanted to create chaos. Last time too, they had disrupted the public hearing," said DERC chairman, PD Sudhakar.
"At public hearings, we have to deploy our staff to ensure law and order," said a senior Delhi police officer.
"Full ID check was in progress at the venue. Moreover, we were made to sit with policemen. Are we criminals? Police are not even allowed inside the courts with criminals," said an angry Anil Bajpai, president of RWA's Federation Delhi (East).
A number of RWAs threatened to boycott future hearings if police were deployed in such strength. "We will not attend the hearing in the future if the authorities treat us like this," Bajpai said.
Ashok Bhasin, a participant, claimed people were not able to participate fully due to the presence of the police. "Why were the police officials sitting inside the auditorium in civil clothes. Are we criminals?" he asked.
Nearly 150 people participated in the public hearing with many questioning power cuts despite surplus power. They blamed the discoms for poor maintenance of power infrastructure.