UP: Lathis being collected ahead of Ayodhya ruling

With the Ayodhya title suit verdict just days away, the Uttar Pradesh Police is busy stocking up its most trusted mob control equipment - `lathis` - to tackle any possible riot-like situation in the aftermath of the ruling.

Last Updated: Sep 20, 2010, 11:09 AM IST

Lucknow: With the Ayodhya title suit verdict just days away, the Uttar Pradesh Police is busy stocking up its most trusted mob control equipment - `lathis` - to tackle any possible riot-like situation in the aftermath of the ruling.

The state government has sanctioned Rs 72.5 crore for
largescale purchase of `lathis` to deal with any unruly mobs
in case they hit the streets in the wake of the Allahabad High
Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute slated for September 24,
a senior police officer said.

"Though the state police is armed with the latest
weaponry, the number of `lathis`, considered to be the best
mob control equipment, is lacking in the force. Now, the state
government has sanctioned Rs 72.5 crore for its purchase
before September 24," he said.

Of the sanctioned amount, Rs 50 crore is for the police
force, Rs 16 crore for home guards and Rs 6.5 crore for
Prantiya Raksha Dal (PRD) jawans, he said.

Besides lathis, helmets with face guards, body protectors
and shields will also be purchased with the sanctioned amount
as they are required to control the mob in case of a riot-like
situation.

The modernisation of the force over the years and use of
relatively more advanced equipment had pushed lathis, which
were synonymous with the police till the 1990s into oblivion,
the officer said.

"While much emphasis was laid on equipping the police
force with modern weaponry like AK 47, Insas rifles, bullet
proof jackets and head gears, not much attention was paid to
augmenting the traditional equipment," he said.

However, the state police realised the importance of the
"infamous" lathis during review meetings held of late to
assess security arrangements in view of the upcoming court
verdict on the Ayodhya title suits and the festival season,
the official said.

During meetings it was pointed out by officials that
traditional devices like lathis were the best to tackle mobs
during protests and riot-like situations and there was a shortage of it in the department, he said.
For the state police one lakh lathis, body protectors
and helmets each will be procured, he said, adding that
police headquarters in Allahabad has been authorised to
purchase these equipment.

Similarly, 40,000 lathis/polycarbonated sticks, a
similar number of body protectors and 40,000 torches will be
purchased for homeguards, whereas 20,000 lathis and a similar
number of poly shields would be procured for PRD jawans.

The officer said that a wooden lathi from Rampur cost
around Rs 300 per piece whereas the polycarbonated sticks
costs between Rs 500 to Rs 700 each.
"Instead of Rampuri lathis, the police department will be
going for the polycarbonated sticks as they cause less
internal injuries and are more effective", he said.

"A helmet with face guard costs around Rs 450, body
protectors come for Rs 2,000 per piece and polycarbonated
shield for Rs 1600," the officer said.

PTI