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Gateway to Sikhism

Kusum Lata Mittal Report

C H A P T E R – 1 2


12.1. In a nut shell it is absolutely clear that the Delhi Police was caught napping and completely unprepared to meet the crisis situation with which they were faced consequent to the assassination of the former Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi. Indications of trouble in the city started in the afternoon of 31st October, 1984 right in front of the AIIMS. But the senior police officers could not gear up the machinery to meet the challenge and take due precautionary measures. They did not round up the bad characters and the situation was allowed to drift resulting in the unprecedented riots of 1984.

12.2. Not only was there lack of leadership but also non-implementation of even the piece-meal orders which were issued by the senior officers. Orders under section 144 Cr. P.C. were promulgated in certain areas followed by curfew. But neither were implemented by the police at local level. Some of the policemen even indicated that these instructions were only for the Sikhs and not for others. This would explain why the implementation of the prohibitory orders was tardy in many places and partisan in others.

12.3. Instructions were issued to safeguard sensitive places and seal the borders so that the miscreants from outside Delhi should not enter the city. These orders were also not implemented resulting in mobs from outside Delhi entering the city and taking advantage of the turbulent atmosphere along with the local crowds.

12.4. The police also miserably failed to make immediate preventive arrests and take other precautionary measures as a result of which the miscreants had a field day. They roamed around freely for several days without any fear, indulging in arson, loot and killings. At many places, these mobs were led by local leaders who supplied the mobs with inflammable materials like kerosene, petrol, etc. to indulge in their nefarious activities, unchecked by the law enforcement machinery.

12.5. Not only did the police not make preventive arrests, they also did not control the mobs by bursting tear gas shells or resorting to lathi charge in the early stages of the riots. They also did not resort of effective firing. In most places, the firing was done in the ‘air’ giving the mobs the impression that the police was not going to interfere with their unholy activities.

12.6. One usual complaint of the police is that the public does not cooperate with them. However, we find that during the 1984 riots a large number of citizens, both men and women, came forward and informed the police of the nefarious activities of the mobs but they were shocked and surprised to see the indifferent and partisan attitude of the police. It almost appeared as if the police was siding with the mobs, which it did openly in some places, rather than taken the information of these independent public minded citizens seriously. As Dr. Sushila Nayar rightly laments in her letter to the Union Home Minister (ref. To in Chapter VII page 267)

“ This poison in the police is dangerous for our country.”

12.7. The Police Commissioner not only failed to make a correct assessment of the situation which resulted in delay in calling in the army but there was also subsequent lack of co-ordination at various levels. The DAP contingents were sent to places without senior officers commanding their men and without proper briefing as a result of which they had no clear concept of what was expected from them. Some even returned to Lines on the pretext that crowds were not letting them proceed to their destination. The local police in many places did not properly guide the army personnel and this resulted in arson, loot and killings continuing even after the army had been called in belatedly. Trouble therefore did not subside as quickly as it should have after the mobilization of the DAP, Central Forces, and, the army.

12.8. The intelligence system of the Commissioner of Police seemed to have totally failed him. It gave the C.P. no advance warning of what was brewing. It also does not seem to have kept him informed when lower functionaries were misbehaving, taking sides with the mobs, and, allowing the situation completely to go out of hand. Having worked in the IB for a number of years one would have expected Commissioner of Police to gear up this agency in the Capital during his tenure. But sadly this was not to be. This resulted in the killing of thousands of innocent people in a most gruesome and horrifying manner besides arson and looting on an unprecedented scale, to hide which the cases were not registered by the local police.

12.9. A unique and novel method was evolved by the police to make recoveries of looted property. They announced that those who had stolen property should unload it in front of the places from where they had stolen it or in front of the police stations otherwise they would betaken to task. This resulted in general amnesty and the miscreants going scot free. It was obviously not possible to link the crime with the offenders by following this method. This procedure of giving general amnesty to all the offenders also made subsequent investigation well-nigh impossible.

12.10. While Addl. Commissioner of Police Shri Gautam Kaul gave instructions to his staff to register as many cases as possible and set up special investigation teams, Shri H.C.Jatav, Addl. C.P. gave exactly the opposite orders and even justified the lumping together of cases into one FIR. Shri Kaul’s orders were surprisingly ignored by the local functionaries and this resulted in a large number of cases not being registered or investigated. However, in respect of this aspect, the Government has set up a Committee and they will be submitting their findings separately.

12.11. The police made concerted efforts to play down the number of killings which occurred during the 1984 riots. There is evidence on record to prove that the police had quietly collected and disposed of the bodies of those whom the mobs were unable to completely burn. The police went on claiming that only a few hundred people had died when the figure ran into thousands as was subsequently proved by Ahuja Committee, after due verification.

12.12. The extent of indiscipline in the police is also evident from the fact that even those culprits who were caught red-handed by Shri Gautam Kaul, the then Addl. C.P. were let off by his subordinates once his back was turned, in spite of his specific orders. In another case, an Inspector refused to take arrested persons to the Thana on orders from senior officers saying he had other work to do and strangely he is supported by Shri Jatav, Addl. C.P. instead of being taken to task and punished. This is not surprising because in Subzi Mandi Sri Jatav himself let off the miscreants caught by the public.

12.13. Rumors like water having been poisoned, and, train-load of dead bodies of Hindus having arrived from Punjab at the railway stations were allowed to float in the entire city. What is surprising is that information that the water had been poisoned appears to have started from the PCR and continued to spread for quite some time in the city. Such an announcement by the police officially naturally created panic. The rumor was so wide-spread that there is a message from the Prime Minister’s residence asking whether any one had died as a result of drinking this water. Instead of flashing such information over the wireless and making public announcements, the normal action of the administration should have been to immediately verify from the Municipal Commissioner whether there was any truth in this report. After verification, they should have stoutly denied this rumour and rounded up people spreading the same. Instead of this, the rumor was allowed to float for over 24 hours. The result can well be imagined. Similar is the case about the rumor that train loads of dead bodies had arrived at railway stations from Punjab, which were found to be completely incorrect. As a matter of fact, the dead bodies which did arrive were those of Sikh Victims who had been killed by the mobs at Tughlakabad, Nizamuddin, Palam at Railway Stations and in the trains.

12.14. There seem to be no clear curt orders about firing and when it is to be resorted to by the police. We find that most of the police firing was done in the ‘air’ and this certainly did not deter the mobs from carrying on their nefarious activities in most places. Shooting is resorted to as a last measure to control an ugly situation. If it is not to be effective, then there is no sense in resorting to it and only indicates a lack of will to deal with the situation firmly. It is understood that the police had a proposal to have special rubber bullets which would injure and Immobilize a person but not kill, to deal with riot situations. This proposal should be followed up so that in such situations miscreants can be handled effectively and swiftly without too many casualties. This will also encourage lower functionaries who may not resort, to firing for fear of subsequent enquiries, to act more promptly and decisively.

12.15. It was quite apparent that specific instructions of ‘shoot at sight’ issued from the office of the Commissioner of Police to curb riots were completely ignored by the lower functionaries, both at the middle as well as at the SHO levels, who permitted mobs to carry on their activities unchecked. Unless, therefore, strict discipline is restored, the police in the Capital of the country will not be able to deal with any grave situation of crisis even in future.

12.16. We find that some of the senior officers manipulated their wireless log books to cover up their tracks and others did not record the messages which were flowing in from time to time. This was done obviously in a bid to escape responsibility and charges of dereliction of duty and accountability. Apparently the subordinate staff at various levels does not look up to the Police Commissioner of Delhi as the real Head of the organization. They feel that they have support in other centers of power and therefore they can escape the consequences of their misdeeds and even ignore the police head. This situation developed in Delhi because of the fact that the majority of the police staff remains in Delhi throughout their life and cannot be transferred out. They just float around from one job to the other in Delhi and develop links with various centers of power. This erodes discipline and the Commissioner of Police finds himself somewhat helpless and unable to enforce discipline.

12.17. Earlier at least senior officers could be transferred out of Delhi to other Union Territories but over a period of time most of the UTs have been converted into States. Thus the situation is getting more and more acute and can be compared to what happens when there is in-breeding in any community. Government should give serious thought to this aspect and ensure that a much larger number of officers down to the level of SHO are brought to Delhi on deputation from other States. This might help in bringing about more impartiality and objectivity in the functioning of the Police Administration. This is necessary in Delhi which is the Capital of the Country and the law and order machinery here has to be exemplary, efficient, disciplined and responsive to any situation which may arise. It might be possible to achieve this over a period of time if recruitment to the Delhi Police is reduced and more and more efficient staff is brought on deputation from other States. This would ensure that the officers of proven merit are inducted into the police force of Delhi who do not have local links. This, in turn, would ensure more objectivity and impartiality in their functioning as their career prospects will not depend on the local centers of power.

12.18. The training of the functionaries at various levels also needs to be given a second look and geared up to meet the present requirements of the metropolis where ripples of national and international events first become visible . This also applies to the intelligence units which were not found active and did not anticipate the trouble and give proper intelligence reports to the Police Commissioner, as per his own statement.

12.19. Besides proper training, the Delhi Administration should organize ’mock’ exercises jointly with the army so as to judge from time to time how alert and prepared the police is to meet various situation which can be envisaged in times of war, civil disturbances and communal riots etc. This should become a regular feature and it may pay rich dividends in future.

12.20. In a place like Delhi, the need for having active Mohalla Peace Committees which should represent all sections of the society, cannot be over-emphasized. These committee should hold meetings from time to time and be actively associated with the law and order situation in their respective areas. They should also be associated with ‘mock’ exercises which should be carried out from time to time as has been suggested earlier so that the general preparedness of law and order machinery as well as the activeness of the Mohalla Peace Committees can be reviewed from time to time. This might go a long way in ensuring the general preparedness of the administration and the people to meet any crisis situation.

12.21. Planned and effective use should be made of Home Guards, NCC retired army personnel, organisedsocial organizations and voluntary agencies to assist the civil administration during times of crisis. This is being stressed because then only public support will be forthcoming in a larger measure as there will be a feeling of involvement on their part, which is usually lacking.

12.22. In the existing Police Commissioner system of Delhi the link between the Police Commissioner and the other wings of civil administration is only the L.G. In the States, where Police Commissioner system is in existence, the co-ordination is done by D.G. Police the State Home Secretary, Chief Secretary , Home Minister and the Chief Minister. Such linkages provide the necessary co-ordination with other wings of Administration which are, by and large, absent in Union Territory of Delhi. It is, therefore, necessary that in a place like Delhi the Chief Secretary and the Deputy Commissioner should in some form be associated with the law and order machinery so that the lack of co-ordination which was witnessed in 1984 November Riots is not repeated. In a crisis situation all wings of the Administration have to work in a coordinated manner and the Chief Secretary, Delhi Administration, and the Deputy Commissioner , therefore, need to be associated to bridge this gap. This aspect has also been highlighted in the evidence of Shri K.S. Sethi dated 23.4.86 before the Misra Commission. Without this bridge, the Police Administration becomes withdrawn and exclusive. This aspect of coordination is a felt need and needs to be seriously considered.

12.23. While examining the role of the Delhi Armed Police in Chapter X, it has become evident that there is an urgent need to restructure the entire Delhi Armed Police so that the force becomes effective and efficient. The shortcomings which became evident during the riots should be effectively removed. The capital of the country certainly deserves a better deal. The existing instrument in the form of Delhi Police and the Delhi Armed Police miserably failed to deliver the goods during the November, 1984 riots. As was revealed during the riots, the police which was accountable for its performance to the people of Delhi failed on this account. Their actions should have conformed to the law of the land but they did not. Finally, the police functionaries who were accountable for their performance to the Organization and the Union of India also failed on this account. The police organization must remain at a high pitch of efficiency to enforce the law impartially. Over-hauling the entire policing system of the Capital is, therefore, a crying need and does not brook further delay. It is, therefore, recommended that a small Expert Committee should work out the modalities of re-organizing both the Delhi Police and the Delhi Armed Police so that it can better serve the purpose for which it exists.

12.24. In the end, it is recommended that in case action is initiated against delinquent officers, it should be by an outside agency. Departmental enquiries by officers of Delhi Police are not likely to yield any results. The Commissioner for Departmental Enquiry under the Central Vigilance Commission could be one such agency. The annexure to this report and the District/Police Station-wise folders prepared during the course of enquiry contain the bulk of the relevant material required for the purpose of such enquiries. Most of the original police records and the statements of the concerned officers are also readily available for verification. These will be found useful for taking suitable action without any further delay.

12.25. I would like to place on record my appreciation for the assistance rendered by S/Shri C.M.Sharma Inspector General of Police and I.S. Vohra, Supdt. Of Police and the other technical staff in analyzing the police records and the evidence for the preparation of this Report. I would also like to place on record my appreciation of the services of Shri S.L.Chopra, who functioned as Secretary to the Committee, and the other secretarial staff for organizing the office of the Committee in an efficient manner.


August, 1988.



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