New Delhi: Delhi police commissioner Amulya Patnaik was met by defiance by his own force on Tuesday as hundreds of protesting police personnel shouted slogans that he act like Kiran Bedi in dealing with the assault by lawyers on the men in Khaki.
‘Police commissioner kaisa ho, Kiran Bedi jaisa ho’ chants rang the air outside the Delhi Police Headquarters at ITO in central Delhi as Patnaik asked the protesting cops to have patience and maintain peace and order.
This act of open insubordination is a rare sight in the police force and has been driven by what cops say is the need to remind their senior officers to stand united after the clash with lawyers at the Tis Hazari court on Saturday.
The police chief, who till Tuesday, had not commented on the ongoing row, was forced to come out and address the protesters after they refused to go back to duty till the commissioner himself came and gave assurances of tough action.
Chants of “we want justice” that the protesters were shouting continued even after Patnaik came out to meet them and top officers repeatedly had to beg for silence and order so the police chief could speak.
After the top cop said that the police force should remain disciplined and a judicial enquiry has been ordered, the agitators again started to shout slogans, bringing out the Kiran Bedi one this time around.
What Happened 31 Years Ago
The chant on Kiran Bedi has its roots in 1988 when clashes had taken place between cops and lawyers and Bedi was the deputy commissioner of police for northern Delhi.
The fight had begun in January of that year with the arrest and handcuffing of a lawyer for petty theft. Lawyers at the Tis Hazari complex had immediately gone on strike, charging that lawyers were not supposed to be handcuffed in such cases.
The strike had quickly spread nationwide and led to two violent clashes, in which the lawyers charged that Bedi had failed to protect them. The lawyers had alleged that of the two separate attacks on a group of lawyers - one was engineered by Bedi and other ordered by her.
The first clash was outside the office of Bedi, where 18 lawyers were injured by police batons on January 21. While the lawyers accused police of using excessive force against them, Bedi said the lawyers had stormed her office, shouting obscenities and threatening to rip her clothes off, and that the police had used reasonable force in repelling them.
Then on February 17, 1988, lawyers say that a violent mob of at least 3,000 people arrived at the Tis Hazari court complex, rioted, damaged vehicles and the offices of lawyers. The mob, lawyers alleged, had been engineered by Bedi, but a two-judge panel looking into the allegations had said there was not enough evidence to prove that.
Tuesday's protests have been sparked by a violent clash between police and lawyers at Tis Hazari court following a parking dispute. The violence had left at least 20 policemen injured even as lawyers said at least 40 of them were hurt.
On Sunday, the Delhi High Court took up the matter and ordered the transfer of two senior police officers, the suspension of two other officers and compensation to the injured lawyers. No similar action against the lawyers was ordered and no compensation given to the injured policemen.