Haryana Police’s handling of the stormy Jat protests has come under close scrutiny with analysts criticising the department for failing to stem the crisis as personnel often remained mute spectators in the face of rampaging mobs.
A number of police stations were also wrecked by the demonstrators amid accusations that members of the community in the force were reluctant to act against the rioters.
Realising that the situation was getting out of hand, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar called in the army on Friday evening, having earlier sought companies of paramilitary forces from the Centre.
According to reports, Union cabinet secretary PK Sinha told Haryana DGP Yashpal Singal during a video conference on Saturday to “look sharp” and try to regain lost confidence.
Observers say the state government initially soft-pedalled by asking policemen to exercise restraint, leading to loss of lives.
An IPS officer who is facing action for allegedly not controlling rampaging protesters told his colleagues that he was asked to desist from using force, said sources.
State officials said they had taken note of apprehensions that Jat personnel in the police force could be abetting violence or showing reluctance to act against perpetrators.
“But a stern message has been conveyed to the police personnel – both higher and in the ranks— that reluctance to act or assisting abettors will result in strict punitive action,’’ said additional chief secretary (home), Pranab Kishore Das.
DGP Singal, however, said it would be incorrect to accuse police of inaction. “Police conducted lathi-charge at many places as well as fired teargas shells,” he said. “In fact, so many teargas shells were fired in Rohtak town alone that we ran out of stock.”
A former DGP rank officer HT spoke to on Sunday said Jats have been major beneficiaries of police recruitments in the state over the past two decades.
“Most of the station house officers (SHOs) are Jats. A large number of non- gazetted officials, sub-inspectors, assistant sub-inspectors and head constables are Jats,’’ he said.