Rajat Sharma

Let our human rights activists learn a lesson from Delhi riot videos

akb The death toll in Delhi riots has gone up to 53 with Guru Teg Bahadur hospital reporting six more deaths on Thursday. Nearly 300 injured people are still in hospital. The grief has been compounded with the emergence of two fresh videos on Thursday which showed a 2,000-plus mob targeting Delhi policemen in Chand Bagh locality.

The videos clearly show that policemen were outnumbered, with rioters throwing stones at them and even firing, with policemen trying to shield themselves over a road divider, while trying to escape the fury of the mob. This was the spot where Head Constable Ratan Lal was shot dead by rioters, the area DCP Amit Sharma was critically wounded along with ACP Anuj Kumar and more than a dozen policemen.

The video clips show several women were part of the protest march that soon became a rioting mob. The videos may help Delhi Police in nabbing the attackers. Police have sought the help of cyber cell and forensic lab to develop the pictures in order to identify the rioters.

One of the videos was probably shot from the roof of a gym in Yamuna Vihar, while the second video was shot from Chand Bagh side. Police are trying to contact the persons who shot the video clips. There are also reports of a third video showing a rioter shooting at police. The rioter has been identified and he may be nabbed soon.

Now please try to realize the compulsions under which our policemen have to work. Our National Security Adviser says, government makes laws and policemen have to enforce them responsibly. But, in reality, what actually happened on the ground?

There was rioting and rioters had clearly outnumbered the police. The mob had put policemen on the run, and they were trying to save themselves from rioters. In any democratic country of the world, if police fires at rioters, nobody raises questions, but, in India, police is allowed to fire only in self-defence, because there are many busybodies who raise questions.

The videos clearly show that rioters had used women and children as their shield, and when they attacked the police, the women protesters also threw stones. Our policemen exercised maximum restraint. They bravely faced the stones and bullets, but did not fire a single bullet at the women and children. Their senior police officers, critically wounded, had to be taken to hospitals, and one of them laid down his life. Should we not praise their sense of restraint?

I felt sad watching our policemen cornered by mobs, stoned by rioters and shot in cold blood by assassins in this manner. Imagine what one should do in such a critical situation. Had the police used lathis or bullets on women and children, they would have been suspended, a judicial inquiry commission would have been set up, and the policemen would have to spend the rest of their lives making the rounds of courts, without getting any relief.

I think our civil society needs to decide what to do when faced with such situations. Those who allege violation of human rights must watch these videos and learn a lesson. On one hand, our brave policemen showed utmost restraint, while on the other hand, on Thursday, our opposition lawmakers threw papers at the Lok Sabha Speaker. These errant MPs have made a spectacle (tamasha) of the temple of our democracy. Time to think.

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