- Service rules bar policemen from holding protests
- Unprecedented demonstration had the centre on its toes
- Delhi High Court issued notice to Bar Council of India
At least a thousand policemen gathered outside the police headquarters, blocking an arterial road of the city. The policemen were upset over what they perceived as a lack of the government's concern about their well-being. Cutting across parties, many political leaders happen to be former lawyers, few come from the police.
The lack of any response from the government or their senior officers to Saturday's clash at a Delhi court -- when at least 20 policemen were injured -- and the assault on an officer on Monday was the tipping point. The guilty have gone unpunished and many of the assembled policemen said they fear being targetted when in uniform.
The protesting officers have submitted a list of 10 demands, which includes the creation of a Police Protection Act. Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik was heckled and booed by his officers when he came to defuse the situation and persuade them to return to their posts.
The Delhi Police are under the control of the Union Home Ministry. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who is the Centre's representative in Delhi, held a meeting with top officials of the Delhi Police. At the meeting, Mr Baijal said advocates and police are "important pillars of criminal justice system who should work in complete harmony... it is imperative to restore the trust between the two and ensure that justice is done impartially".
What also upset the policemen was the lack of initiative on their behalf after the Delhi High Court transferred two officers and suspended two others over Saturday's clash. At an emergency hearing yesterday, the court had ordered a judicial probe. It also said no coercive action can be taken against advocates, who initially called a day's strike and then withdrew it.
Ordering the Bar Councils get their members to exercise restraint, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked them to file a response by Wednesday, when the matter will be heard.
The police on Tuesday said cases have been filed for the instances of violence at the Tis Hazari and the Saket courts. A petition will also be filed in the High Court asking it to review yesterday's order of suspension and transfers of the four police officers.
The Indian Police Service tweeted its support, saying: "Incident involving police and lawyers unfortunate. All should take a balanced view of it based on facts in public domain. Countrywide, police stands in solidarity with those police personnel subjected to physical assault and humiliation. Condemn all attempts to break law, by anyone!"
The Congress, which supported the police protest, questioned the silence from Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Calling it a failure of the BJP and Amit Shah, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Delhi police personnel are demanding justice, have been protesting for 10 hours, so are their relatives. Where is Amit Shah? Why isn't he finding a solution to this?"
At least 20 policemen and eight lawyers were injured and 20 vehicles were vandalised in Saturday's clash at Tis Hazari court, which started over a wrongly parked vehicle. The attack was followed by another violent confrontation on Monday, when a policeman was slapped and beaten outside Saket District Court by a group of lawyers.
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