New Delhi: In what appeared to be an “outreach exercise” after receiving severe criticism for the “crackdown” on Jamia Millia Islamia campus last week, the Delhi Police were Thursday seen serving packed food, cookies and tea to protesters at Jantar Mantar, who assembled there to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The police officials, instead of being on the other side of the barricades, mingled with the crowd and discussed with them issues related to the new citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), asking them why they were against it and how it is going to affect India’s secular fabric.
A senior police officer was seen pacifying an angry Jamia student after he asked him about the alleged police brutality on the university campus.
“Why would the police enter our library? Our hostel? And then brutalise students who were not even protesting? Is this justified?” the student asked.
To this, the senior police officer replied very calmly, “Not at all. And we are sorry if you felt that it was an attack on you. We always wish to protect you. We were just trying to identify and pull out the miscreants. We have nothing against the students.”
The officer then added, “Now tell me? How will this CAA or NRC affect our country? Why is there so much anger? I want to know this for my own understanding.”
Just a few metres ahead, another Inspector-level officer was seen engaging with another group of students from a girls’ college.
“Why do you feel CAA is wrong? Have you gone through the entire bill? Have you seen the government documents busting myths around it?” he asked.
To which the students replied: “It is against the very ethos of our Constitution, which says that India is a secular country.” And the discussion goes on…
Police uploaded pictures on Twitter
While most senior officers were engaging students in a dialogue, trying to understand their side of the story, two policemen were busy recording and capturing these “goodwill gestures” by clicking pictures, which were then uploaded on social media.
The official Twitter account of New Delhi’s deputy commissioner of police (DCP) uploaded some of the pictures and wrote how the police were interacting with the protesters and serving them tea, biscuits and water.
The DCP’s Twitter handle also put out pictures, saying how police facilitated peaceful protests.
The police also carried out flag marches and group-patrolling in areas of north-east and south Delhi to interact with the locals, asking them to keep calm.
Instructions came from top to be ‘cordial’ with protesters
According to a source in the police, after the clashes on the Jamia campus and several videos being circulated on social media, showing police beating and dragging students, a clear direction came from the top to be “cordial” with the protesters and “initiate positive discussions on the CAA”.
The police were also asked to exercise maximum restraint and arrange for food for the people who were detained.
At the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in north-west Delhi’s Bawana, where over 350 detainees were kept, the police served them packed food.
According to the police, over 1,200 people were detained after Thursday’s protests and most of them were taken to Rajiv Gandhi Stadium and Suraj Mal Stadium in Nangloi. Over 142 people were also detained at Mandir Marg police station, but were released by evening.
“It all went very well. There was no violence reported from any part of Delhi and that is a success,” DCP (central) M.S. Randhawa said.
Published at Thu, 19 Dec 2019 08:23:00 +0000