The protesters came armed with Mughal emperor Babur’s effigy, and all that was left was to set it on fire. They were met by around 50 policemen from northeast Delhi’s Nand Nagri sub-division. The officers, however, had left their batons and came with placards instead, beaming at the protesters from the United Hindu Front who were demanding a change in the name of Baburpur colony and three other areas sharing the Mughal emperor’s name.
A few tense minutes passed as police urged protesters to read slogans on their placards, asking them to “save Earth from pollution”. Protesters eventually did not burn the effigy, but hit it with slippers and handed it over to ACP (Nand Nagri) Subodh Kumar Goswami. Goswami and his officers from the Nand Nagari division convinced the group not to burn Babur’s effigy.
“Talking directly to an angry crowd leads to violence. I wanted to make sure that the effigy burning did not cause any pollution. So I stood silently with my placards and waited for them to read and respond and then have a dialogue,” Goswami said.
The ACP had spent Sunday morning sketching slogans while his operator, driver and four other officers replicated them on other placards. The local SHO got him wooden sticks to hold the placards, while the ACP got some anti-pollution paintings made by children during Diwali.
After a brief spell of sloganeering, the marchers agreed to interact with police. The discussion with the group veered from the SC order banning crackers to the pollution levels in Delhi to the lungs of children born in the future, following which the group relented. “Police had a dialogue with us and it was a good argument,” said S K Tiwari, the spokesperson of the Hindu United Front.