Water cannon could have controlled mob | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Water cannon could have controlled mob

Police vehicle, which is the first line of defence to disperse protesters, has not been operational for over 2 years; replacement stuck in red tape.

mumbai Updated: Aug 15, 2012 01:10 IST
Saurabh Joshi
Saurabh Joshi
Hindustan Times

It is the police’s first line of defence to disperse a mob. But the Mumbai police’s sole water cannon, Varun, wasn’t even brought to the spot when protesters went on the rampage at Azad Maidan on Saturday.

Till a few years ago, the vehicle was stationed outside Azad Maidan to tackle protests, police officials claimed. However, it was moved as it has not been operational for over two years.

With a carrying capacity of 12,000 litres, the jet of the cannon can throw water with high force till over 100m. “Due to the force of the water, it becomes difficult for the protesters to remain standing,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity.

In order to track the culprits, the police use coloured water. “We use a specific type of colour that stays on the body for over two days. This helps us identify the culprits,” he added.

During Saturday’s protest several policemen were left in a lurch as they waited to get order from the top brass to initiate action against the protesters, who were armed with swords, stones and rods.

“We could have used the water cannon to disperse the crowd as it doesn’t require any permission. But as it wasn’t working, we had little option but to wait for orders,” said a police officer from Azad Maidan police station.

According to officials, the move to get a replacement has been stuck in red tape for the past few months.

When questioned about why Varun wasn’t used to disperse the mob at Azad Maidan, Hemant Nagrale, joint commissioner of police, administration, said, “I cannot comment on anything in connection with the incident.”

Apart from this, one of the torched police vehicles included Vajra, which is used to launch teargas shells.

The police had started with throwing teargas shells at the protesters, but had to resort to lathicharge after Vajra was burnt down. In all 63 people were injured in the incident, of which most were policemen.