Delhi Police had hands full at Ramlila Maidan
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Last Updated: Sunday, September 04, 2011, 11:01
  
New Delhi: Delhi Police had not only to deal with the massive crowd, pick-pocketing and molestation cases during Anna Hazare's 12-day fast at Ramlila Maidan here but also a phone call threatening a blast at the protest venue.

"We were under tremendous pressure. We had sanitised the ground in the morning. But that call changed everything. We had to conduct searches again and the crowd was swelling as it was a public holiday. A leak would have meant a stampede," a senior police official said about the call received at the Delhi Police headquarters on Janmashtami day on August 22.

It was 10.35 am that day when thousands of people were shouting slogans as Hazare was on the dais for an hour. A stampede was what police then feared if the news of the anonymous call got leaked.

Though police expected it to be a "crank call" to create mischief, fears of an explosion were accentuated as only that morning some drunkards had created ruckus at the ground, misbehaving with police and media personnel.

"If the crowd had got a whiff of our searches, we would not have been able to control anything and the loss would have been unimaginable. So we went in for discreet searches without raising any suspicion," the official said.

As police tried conducting searches, the official said, another group tried calling the number from which the call emanated but found it switched off. A case has been registered under Section 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication) of IPC and under relevant provisions of IT Act.

It was not just the hoax call, which was termed as a one-off incident by police, but there were also rampant cases of pick-pocketing and molestation cases - many of which went unreported. Even a video camera of news channel was stolen from Ramlila Maidan.

The channel's reporter and cameraman on August 23 found one of their cameras missing from the Maidan, where they were in for a live coverage of the protest.

"Initially they thought they have misplaced it. They searched the whole ground but could not find it. They even checked with their office to find out whether anyone else had taken it there.

"After finding that the camera has been stolen, they filed a complaint. A case of theft has been registered," the official said.

Another case was that of the stealing of a motorcycle on August 20 midnight from the entry gate of Ramlila Maidan, the official said.

There were also incidents of pick-pocketing but most of them went unreported, the official said, adding even a prominent member of Team Anna was a victim of pickpockets.

The official said they had taken a conscious decision not to arm the personnel with batons at protest venue. "If they had batons in their hands and used them, then there would have been a controversy. We wanted to avoid it," he said.

"At one point outside Tuglaq Road Police Station, a group of policemen came in a bus and alighted with batons. There were protesters detained inside the police station. Suddenly, a constable was asked to collect all the batons. We took all precautions to avoid any clash," he added.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, September 04, 2011, 11:01


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