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Saturday, December 07, 2019

Delhi: Police end protests as senior cop assures grievances will be addressed

Both sides have blamed the other — police claim lawyers started the violence and attacked 3rd Battalion personnel, while lawyers maintain police used excessive force and said firing inside court premises was unacceptable.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 5, 2019 9:35:16 pm
Police personnel gather outside the Delhi Police headquarters. (Express photo: Prem Nath Pandey)

The Delhi Police personnel ended their nearly 11-hour-long protest after assurance by senior officers that their grievances will be addressed.

Addressing the protesters, Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) Satish Golcha urged them to end stir and resume duty, while assuring them that a review petition will be filed against the Delhi High Court order in connection with a clash between cops and lawyers at the Tis Hazari Courts Complex. The senior officer said the injured policemen will get an ex-gratia of at least Rs 25,000.

The High Court had directed that no coercive action should be taken against any lawyer on the basis of FIRs lodged with regard to the November 2 incident. A judicial inquiry has already been ordered.

The Centre contended that the HC order should not be applicable on the subsequent incidents, referring to the assault on a policeman on duty by a group of lawyers at Saket District Court premises on November 4.

Delhi policemen shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi on Tuesday. (REUTERS)

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice and sought response of the Bar Council of India, the apex body of lawyers, and several other bar associations of the national capital on the Centre’s plea.

Meanwhile, Lt Governor Anil Baijal reviewed the situation and observed that advocates and police were important pillars of the criminal justice system and they should work in complete harmony, PTI reported.

“In the wake of the recent unfortunate incident, it is imperative to restore the trust between the two and also to ensure that justice is done impartially in the entire matter,” a statement quoted Baijal as saying.

A Delhi policeman at a protest outside Police headquarters in New Delhi. (Reuters)

Earlier in the day, policemen in uniform and civilian clothes, with many holding placards, began assembling at the police headquarters since morning. Some of the placards read: “We are human in police uniforms” and “Protectors Need Protection”.

PTI reported that Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Eish Singhal had assured the protesting policemen that their concerns would be addressed. “Your concerns and anger have been conveyed to senior officials and I want to assure you that your protest here will not go unsuccessful,” Singhal said.

Addressing the police personnel protesting at the Police Head Quarters (PHQ) in ITO, Delhi Commissioner of Police Amulya Patnaik said, “In last few days, there have been certain incidents in the capital which we handled very well. The situation is improving after that. I appeal to all to maintain peace. It’s trying time for us. We need to fulfill the responsibility of maintaining and assuring law and order. It is expected from us that we the protectors of law will continue to assure law and order in the capital.”

A Delhi policewoman shouts slogans during the protest. (Reuters)

On the other hand, the Bar Council of India (BCI) Tuesday appealed to protesting advocates to join work and asked them to “think about the issue from legal view point and not become a laughing stock in the aftermath of Tis Hazari violence.”

On November 2, around 2 pm, an argument took place between advocates and a sentry of the 3rd battalion, posted outside the lock-up for inmates at Tis Hazari court. It soon snowballed into violence after a large gathering of advocates allegedly assaulted police officers. Eight advocates sustained injuries and at least 20 police officers were beaten up. A few vehicles were also vandalised and set on fire.

On Monday, another confrontation followed in which a group of lawyers allegedly assaulted a policeman and two litigants outside Saket court. The protest at the court began at 9.30 am, when litigants as well as the court staff were not allowed to enter. Lawyers gathered at the entrance of the Lawyers Chamber building and took out a march at the court, shouting slogans against the Delhi Police.

A video shot on a mobile phone, which local police are looking into, shows a policeman being cornered by a group of lawyers. One of them attacks the policeman with his elbow, slaps him and hurls his helmet towards him as he flees. Inside the court, several lawyers also tried to damage a locked up police post. Later, a group of lawyers gathered outside gate 3 of the premises and tore down a Delhi Police signpost and cornered a litigant. He was assaulted by lawyers, who tore his clothes and kicked him.

Six cases have been registered since the November 2 clash. Four of these were registered on the day of the clash. These include two cases filed by advocates, including a woman, one by a district judge and one by a constable. On Sunday, two advocates registered cases against the police team on charges of assault and attempt to murder. All six have been transferred to the Crime Branch SIT, which will further probe the matter.

Tis Hazari, Saket court violence: Police gather outside Delhi Police HQ to express grievances Delhi police protest outside Delhi Police headquarters on Tuesday. (Express photo: Prem Nath Pandey)

Another case was filed against police after a district judge at Tis Hazari court alleged assault and rioting by the force. The fourth was registered on the complaint of a constable who was allegedly beaten up by lawyers.

On Monday, the Delhi High Court ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident, suspended two ASIs and transferred two senior police officers.

Both sides have blamed the other — police claim lawyers started the violence and attacked 3rd Battalion personnel, while lawyers maintain police used excessive force and said firing inside court premises was unacceptable.

Two clips of CCTV footage show the extent of violence at the court lockup held on Saturday. In the first video, more than 20 lawyers open the gate at 3.12 pm. They vandalise the place and attack officers. While some personnel are seen rushing out, the lawyers catch one of them and beat him up. One of the lawyers uses a belt to thrash him. Two minutes after this, the second clip shows officers entering the gates. They pick up the injured policeman and take him inside. After the lawyers protest, one of them is caught by the policemen and beaten up. The man is dragged inside the complex and beaten with lathis.

Advocates in the Delhi High Court and all district courts in Delhi abstained from judicial work on Monday. The lawyers held protest marches all over the national capital — from the Supreme Court to India Gate — to show solidarity with the advocates allegedly injured in the clash. Around 200 lawyers marched from the Saket court to Saket police station raising slogans and several others marched from the Tis Hazari court to the residence of the Lt Governor Anil Baijal and sat on a dharna outside.

The Delhi High Court Monday postponed elections to bar associations at Tis Hazari and Karkardooma courts, which were scheduled for November 5 and 7.

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