On November” 5″ 2019 (Tuesday), Delhi witnessed an unprecedented event when the policemen gheraoed their headquarters to demand justice, following the violent incidents that happened between the lawyers and police after the Tis Hazari court complex incident on November 2, 2019 (Saturday).
Around 30 people, including police personnel, lawyers, and others were injured during the clash between the two pillars of law and order (important aspects of the societal superstructure): police and lawyers. Many vehicles were also damaged during the clash. Delhi Police ended their 11-hour long protest after the senior police officials assured of redressing their grievances.
Cops vs Lawyers in Delhi: How did it all start?
The tension between the police and the lawyers started when a dispute erupted on Saturday concerning the rights to a particular Delhi parking spot. As the parking dispute escalated, lawyers, as well as police personnel, resorted to vandalism. The lawyers not only protested on the roads but also reportedly stopped vehicles and beat up ordinary people, auto-drivers, and journalists.
While the Delhi lawyers set fire to a police van as well as other vehicles, police personnel ransacked chambers of the lawyers. Later the agitating lawyers were beaten up with batons out the Saket District Court by the cops and 3 of them were also shot. Around 30 people were injured. Reports say 21 cops and eight lawyers were injured. Eight prison vans were vandalized, and one police gypsy was burnt down. Fourteen motorcycles were also burnt down.
Delhi HC Directives on Sunday
The Delhi High Court bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, based on the suo motu cognizance of media reports, sat on Sunday. They directed that no coercive actions would be taken against the agitating lawyers based on the FIRs lodged by the police officials. The HC also ordered payment of lump-sum ex-gratia by the Delhi government of Rs 50,000, Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 10,000 to the advocates Vijay Verma, Ranjit Malik, and Pankaj Dubey respectively (all of whom received gunshots).
The Delhi High Court suspended two police personnel. It ordered a 6-week-long judicial investigation (under Justice Garg with assistance from directors of CBI, Vigilance and Intelligence Bureau, or other senior officials) was also ordered. Advocates went on strike in the Delhi High Court as well as all district courts on Monday. They even refused to present themselves before the Delhi HC judges.
Police Seeks “Justice”
On Monday, video footage surfaced showing a fully-robed lawyer slapping and punching motorbike-borne police personnel. This prompted the thousands of cops to gherao their headquarters on Tuesday morning and protest seeking justice. They sought severe punishment for the guilty lawyers. They also sought revocation of the HC orders that includes suspension of 2 ASIs (Pawan Kumar and Kanta Prasad) as well as the transfer of Additional Deputy Commissioner Harender Singh and Special Commissioner Sanjay Singh. Some of the placards read “Protectors Need Protection”, “We are not punching bags”, “We are human in police uniforms”, and many more.
Though the protesting police personnel was urged by Delhi Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik to resume work and uphold the law and order situation in Delhi, the police personnel didn’t budge. In the evening the family members of the cops held a candle-light vigil at the India Gate. The Police associations from Bihar, Haryana, and other states too supported their Delhi colleagues. The IPS Association expressed solidarity with colleagues and condemned the attacks on policemen.
Anil Baijal, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, held a meeting with the Delhi Chief Secretary, at his home for reviewing the situation. The police also submitted a report to the home ministry.
Delhi Police Personnel Called Off their 11-Hour Long Protest after Assurance
Late in the evening, Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) Satish Golcha assured the protesting cops of filing a review petition to the Delhi HC and also announced that the injured police personnel would be given an ex gratia of Rs. 25,000. The senior police officials also assured the agitating cops of looking seriously at the demands submitted by them. Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik said in a statement that he understands the pain of the cops and assured them of taking “their grievances to the right platform”. He went on to urge upon the protesting cops to return to work by saying “Delhi police is known for their good deeds and we should maintain the image.” After this assurance, the police personnel called off their protest late in the evening on Tuesday (November 5, 2019).
Many lawyers say that the Saturday event wouldn’t have gone for a toss if the police contacted the bar association after the Tis Hazari clash. Congress blamed the Home Minister Amit Shah for the failure to contain the situation and called the cop-lawyer clash “a new low in 72 years”. Some police personnel questioned why the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited St Stephen’s Hospital to meet the injured lawyers but didn’t pay a visit to the injured police personnel after the cops versus lawyer clash on Saturday.
The Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi defended the Delhi cops by saying in a statement that “when policemen and women perform their duty fairly, firmly, fearlessly and responsibly, they need to be protected by their seniors.” She went on to say “Never drive men and women in uniform to the wall and let them lose faith in their own service and own seniors.”
Reports say that the central government is sympathetic to the grievances of the police personnel but not happy with the failure of the Delhi Police leadership in controlling the spiralling situation, especially the violation of service conduct by the cops (as police come under essential services). A shake-up at the top brass is reportedly on the cards.