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Sep 01, 2007 at 02:20am IST

India 360: Cops' role to restrain a rioting mob

A private news channel aired a sting operation at the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya alleging that Uma Khurana, a maths teacher in the school was luring her students into sex racket

Turkman Gate and Daryaganj areas in north Delhi where the school is situated turned into a battle zone with angry mob protesting that Khurana should be punished for the crime. Those who took the roads everyday were caught between the agitating mob and the police.

Mumbai is no stranger to mob violence either. It has seen a spate of incidents over the last few months, where students and activists have blackened faces of academics, doctors and even cyber cafe owners and paraded them in public over different complaints.

Last June, a Wilson College professor was dragged through the streets by a mob and his face was blackened. A lecturer at JJ School of Arts was also attacked by a group of women activists earlier this month.

A law enforcer and someone who has been on the thick of things handling protests and rallies, DCP, North- West Delhi, Manish Aggarwal shed more light on mob violence on CNN-IBN show India 360 while speaking to host Smita Nair.

Smita Nair: The charge against the police is that they often shy away from enforcing more stringent provisions for example the Section 7 of the Criminal Amendment Act that talks about restraining the rights of a person, and which is a non-bailable offence. Police generally stick to imposing provisions that are minor bailable offences like unlawful assembly while restraining a mob, why so?

Manish Aggarwal: I wouldn’t agree with you because to most of the the mobs that I have handled or the Delhi police have been handling for the last many years, we have enforced sections which are appropriate for that particular situation. There are sections in the Damage to Public Property Act and they have been imposed in many cases in rioting. Section three, four and five of the Damage to Public Property Act have been imposed in many cases. In any law and order situation we only impose those sections that are applicable. And whenever there is damage to public property and whenever the public goes berserk, the sections commiserate to the acts applied to them.

Smita Nair: Controlling a mob is not just about possibly wearing the riot gear. IPS officers are known to be trained on mob psychology but the point many are making is that an average police who handles explosive situations doesn’t really understand the mob psychology so finds it a difficult in handling the situations.

Manish Aggarwal: The constables and the officers at the rank of sub inspectors, are trained about mob psychology and crowd control. And it is rightly said that every person’s responsibly depends largely upon his academic background, his knowledge and his experience also. It will not be justifiable to say that the constables or policemen in the lower ranks are not able to handle the situation. But in a situation like the one we are discussing right now, when the crowd suddenly gathers either because of rumour mongering or because of some new things erupted that may or may not be correct. It takes time for the police also to react to the situation and organise themselves.

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