Local cops ignored Delhi police special branch’s alerts on Jamia protests
Over 100 people were injured and over 100 vehicles damaged in the protests. In the aftermath, Delhi Police entered the Jamia university campus, and has been accused by the administration of using excessive force against students.Updated: Jan 19, 2020 08:16 IST
The Delhi Police’s special branch sent multiple alerts to the local area police about a possible build-up of protesters who could potentially turn violent on Mathura Road near Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) on December 15 morning, but the warnings were ignored, according to internal communications accessed by HT.
Had the local officers, who come under the south-east police district, acted on the alerts, the situation may have been prevented from getting out of hand, said a senior officer who asked not to be named. Eventually, more than 100 people were injured and over 100 vehicles damaged in the protests. In the aftermath, Delhi Police entered the Jamia university campus, and have been accused by the administration of using excessive force against students.
The internal communications show that the first alert on the day of violence was sent to the district police at 9.41am. Written in Hindi, it read: “Groups of protesters are expected to gather outside Jamia Millia Islamia university’s gate number seven... adequate deployment should be in place.”
After a little over an hour, around 11am, the special branch sent another alert, warning the local police that a “crowd of at least 500 to 600 people, including Jamia university students and residents of nearby areas led by local leaders, may carry out protests”.
As agitators began to gather, around 2pm, another alert was sent, informing local police “at least 1,200 to 1,500 people have already gathered at Sarai Julena Chowk...” It added “roads are not barricaded” and called for “adequate measures should be taken” to stop traffic disruption.
About an hour later, just after 3pm, the special branch again issued an alert: “A crowd of more than 600 may march from the university area towards Mathura Road.” This note also advised the local police to erect barricades in required place because the “crowd may plan a roadblock”.
Just 15 minutes later, another alert was issued, with the intelligence branch conveying that while 500 to 700 protesters had gathered near a hospital at Mata Mandir Road, the “staff of the local police cannot be seen at the spot”. In the next alert issued 10 minutes later, around 3.30pm, the special branch said: “Only two policemen can be seen in the vicinity and gathering has gone up to 1,000 already. Please take necessary steps.”
The alert sent to the local police around 5 pm had information that stone pelting had begun and that the crowd had increased to between 1,500 and 2,000.
According to the FIR recorded by the Delhi Police, the violence began a little after 3pm. The FIR, filed by the station house officer of Jamia Nagar police station, mentions that around 3 pm, many people led by local political leaders had started protests and were marching towards Mathura Road. The FIR noted that the protesters vandalised a police booth, burnt buses and tyres on the road, and pelted stones at the police.
At least six written intimations (alerts) were sent to the local police on the morning of December 15. Southeast district police were given similar alerts two days in advance, on December 14 and 13, documents accessed by HT show. In these alerts, police were informed about inadequate deployment and how roads weren’t barricaded.
A clash between the police and protesters outside JMI campus and nearby areas resulted in protesters torching vehicles. At least four buses were torched, and over 100 two-wheelers and vehicles damaged. More than 100 persons were injured when protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise took a violent turn after the protesters, who had gathered at Jamia, attempted to march towards arterial south Delhi roads and were stopped by cops.
Jamia is under southeast district of Delhi Police. HT learnt that letters with prior knowledge of mass gathering were sent by the Delhi Police’s intelligence branch, also known as special branch, to commissioner Amulya Patnaik, special commissioner (law and order) RS Krishnia, special commissioner (intelligence) Praveer Ranjan, and senior officers of southeast district, including joint commissioner (southern range) Devesh Srivastava, and deputy commissioner of police (southeast) Chinmoy Biswal.
These alerts were not just sent in writing but were also read out on the police’s wireless radio sets, officers privy to the letter confirmed, requesting anonymity.
Retired IPS officer Prakash Singh, who was director general of UP and Assam state police, said special branch alerts are to be taken seriously. “If such alerts were sent, local police should have acted instantly. Precautionary measures should have been put in place unless local police thought these useless,” he said.
Singh explained some alerts sent by special branch on Republic Day every year are general in nature and need to be acted upon only if they are specific and detailed. “But alerts related to Jamia violence should not have been dealt with contempt. But I cannot comment on why these alerts were overlooked,” he said.
Not just this, the district police had been receiving similar alerts prior to December 15 as well.
On December 13, two days before the violence, the office of the deputy commissioner of police received alerts about a “large gathering under the leadership of local politicians close to Jamia metro station” who would march to New Delhi and the Central Secretariat area.
The next day, on December 14, the office had more specific information, “Local residents, university students, local leaders and teachers may gather in large numbers...gathering expected 2,000 to 2,500...may block roads, damage public property, may create major law and order problems.” This alert even specified that the “gathering has been called by the students of JMI.”
The alerts were shared with senior traffic officers and police control room. When HT contacted DCP (southeast) Biswal, he said, “Communication with the special branch is confidential. We won’t comment on intimations they sent. Local police handled the violent mob in the most efficient and effective manner with minimum necessary force.”
Joint commissioner of police (southern range) Srivastava said they work closely with the intelligence branch. “The two departments mutually share information on law and order situations for better coordination,” he said.