Delhi needs a strong police chief…| HT Editorial
Many people have to take responsibility for the lawlessness witnessed in parts of Delhi over the past four days — itself the result of what’s gone on in the city-state over several months.
Some of the blame is the Union home ministry’s. It manages Delhi Police, and has also not engaged with people protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, the flashpoint for much of the violence. Some of the blame is that of protesters, peaceful and violent, pro- and anti-CAA. For months, Shaheen Bagh has hosted a peaceful anti-CAA protest. It’s probably the world’s most successful Occupy movement, but the protesters, having made their point, are refusing to move to another location; blocking one of the main roads linking Delhi to Noida. Their continued sit-in is a magnet for pro-CAA protesters, and Delhi has been just a spark away from a major incident. As for pro-CAA protesters, some of them seem to believe that they have the State’s blessing and can indulge in violence with impunity (some of the actions of the police suggest they can). Then there are the violent anti-CAA protesters, whose violence isn’t always a response, but sometimes a provocation. Some of the blame should be directed at political parties of all hues – of this, a disproportionate amount should be assigned to the Bharatiya Janata Party because it is in power at the Centre and best placed to do something.
ALSO WATCH | Day 3 of Delhi violence: Death toll up amid stone pelting, arson, firing
But much of the blame should be reserved for Delhi Police. Time and again, it has been found wanting. Its assessment of situations has often gone wrong. Its planning has been inadequate. And its response has usually been the wrong one. Worse, its speed of response (or lack of it) has allowed situations to spiral out of control. For instance, on Day 1, it could have cleared Shaheen Bagh and moved the protesters to an alternative site, if it wanted to, and in the more recent violence in north-east Delhi, signs of all not being well have been visible since Saturday.
All point to a crisis of leadership and decision-making in the primary law enforcement agency in the national capital. It is expected that SN Shrivastava, named special commissioner (law and order) , Delhi Police on Tuesday, will take over as police chief after the current chief, who is on extension, retires at the end of the month. He will hopefully be up to task of handling the most important policing job in the country.