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Shame: Capital ruthless towards men in uniform

Being in harm’s way may be an occupational hazard for them but when it comes to policing the Capital, the police it seems, need some protection themselves. Jatin Anand reports.
Hindustan Times | By Jatin Anand, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2011 01:08 AM IST

Being in harm’s way may be an occupational hazard for them but when it comes to policing the Capital, the police it seems, need some protection themselves.

The characteristic restlessness, unbridled aggression and the good old mob mentality inherent in the average Delhiite made them violently punish men in uniform for doing their job every month.

Delhi witnessed vitriolic attacks on men in uniform even during the Commonwealth Games fortnight when the city was supposed to have been at its best behaviour.

In incidents ranging from deliberate acts of aggression on city streets to even abduction bids in which police officers were victimised, at least four officers were killed, as many as 20 injured, five police vehicles torched and 50 cases of rioting registered in the year 2010. "The latest such incident occurred last Friday near the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Bhikaji Cama Place in south Delhi.

A traffic police head constable, who had been instructed to accompany a canter driver and the vehicle’s cleaner to an impound pit, was beaten up and driven almost to the Agra border just for following orders,” said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

According to the police, the 45-year-old head constable was mercilessly assaulted by the driver and cleaner of the heavy vehicle after it was pulled over for driving on the right side of the road.

The vehicle was en route the Traffic Police’s RK Puram vehicle impound pit after being pulled over and fined at 9.30 pm when the head constable’s ordeal began.

“But instead of heading to the pit, the driver forcibly took the officer to national highway (NH) 8 where he was able to free himself only after an auto rickshaw driver intervened. Two FIRs were lodged, one each at the Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Cantonment police stations, and the errant driver and cleaner arrested,” Garg added.

The incident was followed by a sub-inspector losing his life in a hit-and-run case in north Delhi’s Civil Lines area on Sunday morning and a 34-year-old traffic head constable being run over by a speeding minibus driver at Burari Chowk the very next day.

“The key is to increase penalties for traffic violations to an extent that they can act as effective deterrents. It is only then that people will stop driving rashly and respect traffic laws,” Police commissioner BK Gupta told Hindustan Times.

On December 16, three police officers suffered injuries and a PCR van was torched by a mob when they attempted to quell a violent confrontation at a slum cluster in outer Delhi’s Shahbad Dairy area.

Locals protesting police inaction in a hit-and-run case in Aman Vihar turned violent, set a police vehicle ablaze, damaged a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus and pelted stones, prompting police to lob teargas shells and resort to lathicharge on August 30.

“There have been various incidents in which PCR vans were torched and our officers assaulted by the residents of particular pockets in the area. These can only be attributed to the anonymity that one seeks refuge behind in a mob,” said Chhaya Sharma, deputy commissioner of police (outer).

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