“We act on command, not morale,” said a constable deployed on bandobast duty for a rally at Azad Maidan on Monday. Attached to the Azad Maidan police station, he was one of the 58 police personnel who bore the brunt of a rampaging mob at the same venue a month ago.
“When in uniform, we are supposed to follow commands. There is little time to think about the past, present or the future,” said the constable in his mid-30s, trying to dismiss the perception that the morale of the force, especially the constabulary who were at the receiving end of the mob fury, had taken a beating following the August 11 violence.
“Yes, it hurts when I think about the savagery faced by my colleagues, but in many assignments in the past too, we were injured during stone pelting and vandalism,” said the constable, who suffered head injuries in the attack. He resumed duty a fortnight ago, and has since been deployed on morcha bandobast duty half-a-dozen times.
An inspector-level officer from the same police station, who resumed duty four days after he was left with a swollen right shoulder and cramped neck following the severe beating by the hooligans, told HT that more than repentance, the incident is a learning lesson for officers in improvising bandobast arrangements in the future. “During introspection of the incident, we found we were not outnumbered, as it was believed initially. Rather, we were scattered and thereby became easy targets,” he said.
Former IPS officer YP Singh said the incident has necessitated that senior officers assume a more proactive role. “Although the seniors are expected to take decisions on critical matters, traditionally they leave it to junior officials and clerical staff who don’t have the capacity to assess or appreciate the enormity of the situation,” he said.