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Delhi Police had hands full at Ramlila Maidan

Last Updated: Sunday, September 4, 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.


First Published: Sunday, September 4, 2011 - 11:01
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