"I wasn't afraid of the crowd; I was scared that my men had their hands on the triggers of the automatic weapons after being beaten up by the mob," police commissioner Arup Patnaik admitted on Monday.
The police chief said he feared the violence on Saturday, which left two dead and 63 injured, would result in a repeat of the 1992 riots. Hence, he had to ensure that the situation was handled swiftly and in a professional manner. "Everything was brought under control within 20 to 30 minutes," he added.
Claiming that it was easier for his men to fire than to restrain themselves, Patnaik said, "But had the police fired, there would have been at least 500 to 1,000 casualties, similar to 1992."
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Patnaik added, "Non-violence is a weapon of the brave."
Known as a no-nonsense man, Patnaik said he was the deputy commissioner of police, zone 7 (Bandra), during the 1992 riots and had seen the repercussions of a protest going out of hand.
"On Saturday, I took a risk and went on stage. Even I was pelted with stones, but I appealed to the seniors in the crowd and reminded them of 1992," he said, adding that had there been an all-out assault by the police, the matters would have further escalated.
Patnaik claimed that before firing at the crowd, the police, as per rule, used tear gas, then hit them with lathis and also fired with rubber bullets.
When questioned about him shouting at Ravindra Shisve, deputy commissioner of police, zone 1, Patnaik said, "I am the head of the family and I can shout at my boys to train them. It was not personal."
'No intelligence failure'
The police chief denied that there was any intelligence failure, claiming that the police bandobast was well equipped to handle over 1 lakh people.
"The fact that joint commissioner of police (law and order) Rajnish Seth, additional commissioner of police Krishna Prakash and four deputy commissioners of police were present with a staff of around 750, along with riot control police, shows we were more than ready," he said. He added, "The rods used in the violence were brought to the venue. These rods are use as pole for flag hoisting."