For the members of the Mumbai police force, who have been guarding the city’s streets for 45 days without a break, peace in the city after the Ayodhya verdict on Thursday meant hard-earned success.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operation), Rajkumar Vhatkar, who strategised and supervised the protracted security arrangements decided to split the task into two. “A mixture of a series of meetings and a demonstration of power ensured peace,” Vhatkar told Hindustan Times on Friday, as he finalised the security arrangements for Saturday.
A week before Ramzaan police stations began discussions with religious leaders, local politicians and social workers on ways to diffuse communal tension. Mohalla committees, peace committees and social organisations were also roped in. There was tension when an American priest threatened to burn the Holy Quran in September. Then came Ganeshotsav, which coincided with Id. The firing outside Jama Masjid in New Delhi and information that two suspected terrorists had entered Mumbai added to the pressure.
“Several tough decisions had to be taken to ensure the safety of citizens, like thousands of preventive arrests and detentions. But there was no alternative,” Vhatkar said.
The Ayodhya verdict was a culmination of the series of events over the past month. The police commissioner, an all senior officers, stayed back in their offices for days together without going home.
The force continues to be on alert. “We had already established communication channels with various communities. What was needed was the visibility of uniformed policemen to instill confidence in people,” Vhatkar said.
He said the police were confident nothing would go wrong. “From the body language of the citizens and the morale of our men, it never occurred to us that there could be trouble.”
The decision on whether to continue with the present level of deployment or scale it down was to be taken on Friday night.