State police has failed miserably in controlling riots
Imposing social stability, justice and communal peace is the most important role of any state police force. However, perennially, Indian police force has shown their incapability in containing and addressing any major upheaval with respect to peacekeeping measures in their respective states. It goes without saying that in case of a riot it must protect the unarmed, disarm the armed, the perpetrator must be brought to books and victims must be properly rehabilitated. However, this seems to be world away in case of India, and most police forces have been failing to protect a peace plan in an engineered riot!
In the recently held riots in Assam, the Bodos’ formidable reputation justified by a series of swarm attacks on Bangladeshi immigrants could not be tackled by the police. They were simply not geared up to handle violence of this nature! The police imposed curfew, but the attackers openly flouted them. The headlines were created by such violence as the rioters armed with guns, machetes and sticks continued with their mayhem with police standing helpless as mere spectators. Finally, the Assam government had to deploy about 1,000 soldiers from the Army to bring the situation under control. There were allegation that no police visited the rehabilitation camps which are languishing in dearth of food, medicines and other essential supplies.
The communal clash in Kosi Kalan town in Mathura district, just preceding Assam violence, is another embarrassing reminder of police inefficiency. The large scale vandalism, destruction and damage to properties to the tune of Rs.50 crores crippled the town with no ‘timely’ strong measures from the police to control the same. In fact, the situation in Kosi Kalan spiraled out of control mainly because of delayed police action, which otherwise could have been prevented. Two decades ago a similar happening took place in Mumbai which had all the makings of a horror movie with 900 people dying in the incident. Justice B.N. Srikrishna Commission of Inquiry into the riots revealed the ineffective and simply not up to the mark police’s role to combat the violence. The police were largely apathetic failing to leave their appointed posts, even during emergency calls. Same goes in the case of Meerut riots of 1982. N.C. Saxena who inquired into Meerut riots of 1982 had similar story to narrate about police’s role into the incident. Aligarh riot in 1971 paints the same picture.
In the 3 major post-independent riots (the Delhi riots against Sikhs in 1984, the post-Babri Masjid riots in 1992 and the Gujarat mayhem in 2002), the role of police has been quite unsatisfactory and in all these incidences, the state machinery had to rely on Army or specialised forces to gain control over the situation. However, the army which comes for the rescue takes time for their deployment with their little knowledge of geography and the prevailing situation, which often becomes a hindrance for them to put the situation back to normal.
The situation handling exercise echoes the utter failure of state machinery that foretells the unnecessary loss of lives and properties. It is imperative for the state government to train their police force and equip them with right tools to control such situation. Going further, the state police should develop a special task force for such SOS situation. Or else, the army would have to forgo their tasks, to take up the responsibilities which the state should independently handle.