With the Ayodhya title suit verdict just days away, the Uttar Pradesh Police is busy stocking up its most trusted mob control equipment - lathis - to tackle any possible riot-like situation in the aftermath of the ruling.
The state government has sanctioned Rs 72.5 crore for largescale purchase of lathis to deal with any unruly mobs in case they hit the streets in the wake of the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute slated for September 24, a senior police officer said.
"Though the state police is armed with the latest weaponry, the number of lathis, considered to be the best mob control equipment, is lacking in the force. Now, the state government has sanctioned Rs 72.5 crore for its purchase before September 24," he said.
Of the sanctioned amount, Rs 50 crore is for the police force, Rs 16 crore for home guards and Rs 6.5 crore for Prantiya Raksha Dal (PRD) jawans, he said.
Besides lathis, helmets with face guards, body protectors and shields will also be purchased with the sanctioned amount as they are required to control the mob in case of a riot-like situation.
The modernisation of the force over the years and use of relatively more advanced equipment had pushed lathis, which were synonymous with the police till the 1990s into oblivion, the officer said.
"While much emphasis was laid on equipping the police force with modern weaponry like AK 47, Insas rifles, bullet proof jackets and head gears, not much attention was paid to augmenting the traditional equipment," he said.
However, the state police realised the importance of the "infamous" lathis during review meetings held of late to assess security arrangements in view of the upcoming court verdict on the Ayodhya title suits and the festival season, the official said.
During meetings it was pointed out by officials that traditional devices like lathis were the best to tackle mobs during protests and riot-like situations and there was a shortage of it in the department, he said.
For the state police one lakh lathis, body protectors and helmets each will be procured, he said, adding that police headquarters in Allahabad has been authorised to purchase these equipment.