Why the violence, cops wonder

Aug 12, 2012, 08:10 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Caught unawares, the Mumbai police are now working to ascertain the cause behind the riots at Azad Maidan

A high-level probe is being carried out by the Mumbai police to ascertain the circumstances that led to the ugly turn of events at Azad Maidan on Saturday afternoon. Two people died and several others were left seriously injured.

An investigating police team will go through the CCTV camera footage at Azad Maidan as well as the BMC headquarters to look for the miscreants who set the media OB vans and police vehicles on fire. The footage of spots where private vehicles were vandalised near McDonalds and the GPO will be reviewed.

A protester breaks the glass case that encloses the Amar Jawan memorial outside Khao Galli at CST. Pics/Atul Kamble

State Home Minister Satej Patil confirmed the probe and said, “The police have been put on high alert all over Maharashtra. Mumbai police have started their probe and are working on getting answers.”

Intelligence failure?
Former senior intelligence officials, on condition of anonymity, said that the Special Branch 1 sleuths, who are dedicated to gather local intelligence, including the mill specials from the local Azad Maidan and LT Marg police station, ought to have anticipated the crowd turnout and should have appraised their superiors of the same. The police should have ensured adequate bandobast and made arrangements to tackle any untoward incidents, taking previous incidents into consideration that have raised a law and order situation in the city. However, when asked whether there was adequate police bandobast at the spot, Patil replied in the affirmative.

Eye witness account
A South Mumbai-based lawyer, who did not wish to be identified, said, “I was heading towards the McDonalds area, when young boys between 20-30 years of age, armed with lathis broke the windshields of four private cars. Luckily my driver managed to move the car safely. The police dispersed the mob from Azad Maidan. They had wreaked havoc on the other stretch of the road, which went unnoticed by the policemen deployed nearby.”

A vehicle is set ablaze during the violence

Meanwhile, former director general of police Dr PS Pasricha said, “The city police have managed to act swiftly and have controlled the situation. In any uniform force (defence, police, etc) the hierarchy and protocol should never be breached and the command and control should always be with the head of the force to maintain discipline within the force.”

Patil has appealed to the public to maintain peace and requested them not to believe in any rumours or forward SMSes creating unwanted panic. People can contact the nearest police station or control room to confirm any rumours, or to pass on information about any mischief in their area.

The Mumbai police spokesperson and Deputy Commissioner of Police Nissar Tamboli said, “We are yet to verify the exact reason for the incident and are trying to get to the root of the issue. People should maintain peace and call the police headquarters on 22623054, 100, 1983, 1855 and 22625020 to verify any rumours.”  

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