Amidst the clamour for his resignation over the ill-treatment of protesters at India Gate and the negligence of some of his personnel -- who could have prevented the brutal gangrape -- Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar spoke to HT, and said he did what the circumstances demanded:
Is pressure mounting on you to quit?
I hold my office at the pleasure of the Centre. As and when they feel it's time for me to leave, I shall vacate office gladly. I will reserve further comment on the matter. But those found lacking in their respective duties have been suspended.
How do you justify the evidently brutal crackdown on protesters?
Brutal or not is a matter of perception and not all those present there were innocent protesters. Many lumpen elements had taken over the reins of the protest.
It's not like policemen start caning people left, right and centre. They were doing their job — of protecting sensitive installations.
Preventive action was initiated: First with appeals, then water cannons, followed by teargas shells and, finally, with no alternative left, we had to resort to a lathicharge.
Had we been unable to contain them, we would have been accused to being incapable of protecting North and South Block.
But there are visuals of policemen going berserk and even manhandling women.
We have a hundred hours of footage too which tell a different story. Nobody can deny that innocents were, or may have, been targeted. But when thousands are charging at you, how can one tell the difference between a lumpen and a genuine protester?
Our reaction was meant for the rioting few — who have been identified and will be booked. They even harassed female police personnel.
I apologise to those who got caught in the crossfire. It was unintentional and will be enquired into.
Amidst the hullabaloo, everyone seems to have forgotten about the 23-year-old victim of the brutal gang-rape. Are you prepared for the law and order situation that a sudden dip in her health may bring about?
I'm not even thinking about such an eventuality — but that doesn't mean we won't be prepared for it. However, let's not speculate on the topic. I'd rather pray that she gets better.
Do you think you have enough evidence to make your case stand in court? The arrests were made post-haste.
We are sure of our investigation and will file a chargesheet in a week. The victim has identified the accused, so has her male friend.
A special prosecutor is being appointed to represent us in court. While awarding death penalty is the prerogative of the judiciary, we will appeal for the most stringent punishment possible — life imprisonment without remission.