TWO SENIOR police officers of Saharanpur were transferred on Wednesday for the police’s “failure” to assess the situation a day earlier and prevent the fresh bout of violence in the district. Saharanpur DIG Jitendra Shahi said there was an intelligence failure and that the police had failed to assess the situation on ground. Superintendent of Police (City) Sanjay Singh and SP (Rural) Rafiq Ahmad were transferred to the Police Headquarters in Allahabad. Prabal Pratap Singh and Vidya Sagar, respectively, will take over, it was informed.
“There should have been better planning (by the police). We should have, for instance, spoken with the protesters, deployed forces in border villages where the problem took place on Tuesday,” DIG Shahi said.
Besides, he said, “teams should have been in place to asses the situation, on which we failed. There was an intelligence failure.”
Several vehicles were set on fire, people were manhandled and there were reports of stone-throwing at different places on Tuesday after police used the baton on protesters from Bheem Army, an organisation claiming to represent Dalits. The organisation was denied permission to hold a “mahapanchayat”, as they did not have “required permission”, to seek justice for members of Dalit communities attacked, allegedly by those of Thakur communities, in Shabbirpur village of the district last week.
On Wednesday evening, the District Magistrate met members of both communities.
Indicating the inadequate numbers in the police force across the state, the DIG said nearly 30 policemen from the city had gone to Meerut for security in Chief Minister Adityanath’s programme. “Around 1.5 lakh posts are vacant across the state. We need to fill them up immediately for effective policing,” Shahi said.
About the lathicharge, a police source said the government had directed them to use “force” wherever necessary to control mobs, and that the lathicharge had become imperative by then.
The source pointed out that they had intercepted messages on a social media platform on Monday evening, after which the crowd was dispersed from the city area, which helped contain the violence to a large extent.
Twenty-two people from Dalit communities have been arrested for Tuesday’s violence and raids are going on, the police said on Wednesday.
Emphasising that they had no intention of spreading violence, Chandrashekhar, the founder of Bheem Army, said that people had first gathered at Chhatrawas, and after the police dispersed them they went to Gandhi Maidan. “Everyone waited for someone from the authorities to turn up and speak, but the police did a lathicharge,” he said. “They detained some people and seized three motorbikes. This irked most (protesters) but there was still no violence. When a photographer took a picture, everyone assumed that it will be used against them…and the violence began.”
After Friday’s violence, Chandrashekhar said, they had met the magistrate on Saturday and had given a letter with eight demands – among others, a high-level fair investigation, compensation for victims, suspension of police officers who were present but could not control the violence. “Even that day a large number of people had gathered at Ravidas Chatrawas in the city, but we did not create any ruckus. We just needed some assurance that we will get justice,” he said.