Delhi Police personnel on Tuesday held a massive protest outside their headquarters near Income Tax Office over inaction against lawyers who attacked their colleagues at Tis Hazari court complex and Saket court, PTI reported.

The Delhi High Court, meanwhile, issued a notice to the Bar Council of India and other bar associations after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs filed an application seeking clarifications about the court’s order directing that no coercive step be taken against lawyers who face charges in Saturday’s Tis Hazari Court incident, PTI reported. The Centre asked the court for a free hand to act against lawyers except those named in the two FIRs lodged for the Tis Hazari clash, News18 reported. The “unfortunate incidents” of the last two days “requires the law to take its own course without fetters”, the home ministry added.

The High Court, however, declined to pass an interim order on lawyers’ plea for banning the media from showing videos that “could make situations worse”. The matter will be heard again on Wednesday.

Violence had broken out at Saket court in South Delhi on Monday too, when a policeman was assaulted. A video surfaced in which a group of lawyers were seen heckling and assaulting the police official as he tried to leave on his motorcycle. The policeman and a civilian, who also alleged he was beaten up at the court, have filed complaints against unidentified lawyers, PTI reported on Tuesday.

Senior police officers address protestors

Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik urged protesting police personnel to return to work, and said they should behave like a “disciplined force”. He assured them that their concerns would be addressed.

“In last few days, there have been certain incidents in the Capital which we handled very well,” he added, according to ANI. “The situation is improving after that.”

He appealed to personnel to maintain peace. “It’s trying time for us,” Patnaik said. “We need to fulfil the responsibility of maintaining law and order...”

Joint Commissioner of Police (Southern Range) Devesh Srivastava told the demonstrators that their demands had been accepted. “FIRs have also been registered in connection with Saket and Tis Hazari Court incidents,” ANI quoted him as saying. “No departmental action will be taken against those who are protesting.”

The policemen want the licences of lawyers who assaulted their colleagues to be revoked, according to PTI. They have also asked for the FIR registered against policemen in the Tis Hazari incident to be quashed, and an FIR against every lawyer involved in the clash. They have asked the police to move the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court’s November 3 order transferring Special Commissioner of Police Sanjay Singh and Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Harinder Singh while their role in the incident is investigated.

Joint Commissioner of Police Rajesh Khurana told police personnel that “we are the one who enforce the law and we have to continue with our work”.

The placards held by the protesting policemen read: “How is the Josh? Low, Sir”, “We are human in police uniforms” and “Protectors Need Protection”.

The protesting police personnel also raised slogans praising former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, apparently for her action against lawyers during a similar conflict in 1988, ANI reported. “What should the police commissioner be like? He should be like Kiran Bedi,” they said.

The protests led to traffic snarls at several intersections leading to ITO. Delhi Traffic Police issued traffic advisories. “Traffic Movement is closed in the carriageway from ITO towards Laxmi Nagar,” the police said in a tweet. “Motorists are advised to use Delhi Gate and Raj Ghat.”

‘New low’, says Congress on protests

The Congress called the police protests a “new low in 72 years”. “Police on protest in ‘National Capital of Delhi’. Is this BJP’s ‘New India’? Where will BJP take the country,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.

Union Minister of State Kiren Rijiju said that being a policeman was a thankless job, but later deleted that tweet. “Being a cop is a thankless job,” he had said in the tweet. “But they don’t do it for thanks. Police officers put their lives on the line every day. They are damned if they do, and damned even if they don’t. What gets lost in all the anti-police rhetoric is the family left at home while a policeman serves.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police submitted a report to the Union Home Ministry about the clashes in Tis Hazari court, PTI reported citing unidentified officials. “It is a factual report in which the Delhi Police has given details of the circumstances leading to Saturday’s incident and the action taken after it,” a ministry official said.

Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra in a letter on Tuesday asked lawyers to resume work, saying “rowdy elements” were tarnishing the image of the institution. “The incidents of beating policemen on bike by some of Saket lawyers, assault of an auto driver, manhandling general public are most unfortunate and Bar Council of India is not going to tolerate it,” Mishra said. “These are acts of grave misconduct.”

“The way some lawyers are acting even after such a nice step of Delhi High Court, yesterday’s behaviour of few lawyers has disturbed us,” he added. “Abstaining from court or resort to violence will not help us, rather by doing this we are losing the sympathy of courts, inquiring judge, CBI, IB and Vigilance. Even general public’s opinion is going adverse to us. Result may be dangerous,” he warned.

The Indian Police Service on Monday said police officers across the country were standing “in solidarity with those police personnel subjected to physical assault and humiliation”. “Incident involving police and lawyers unfortunate,” the association said in a tweet. “All should take a balanced view of it based on facts in public domain. Condemn all attempts to break law, by anyone.”

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