Intel report warned of Mumbai violence, 10,000-strong crowd
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The Mumbai Police top brass seem to have been unprepared for yesterday's violence in which two persons were killed and over 50 injured, despite a report from its intelligence wing that warned of possible "law-and-order problems", a "charged atmosphere" and a crowd strength of "10,000 with an upward bias".
According to state government sources, days before the protest organised by some Muslim groups, Additional Commissioner of Police (Special Branch) Nawal Bajaj sent a confidential report to Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik and Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Rajnish Seth warning that "law and order problems are expected" and calling for "heavy police bandobast".
The report said the Muslim community was "angry" at the recent developments in Assam and Myanmar and that there would be a "charged atmosphere" at the ground. It added that Muslims were told about the protest during Friday prayers and would turn up in large numbers.
While the organisers had sought sanction for a gathering of 1,500 people for their protest to denounce the "atrocities" against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar, over 15,000 people turned up. The protestors turned violent, attacking police and media personnel, after a provocative speech from the dais.
When contacted, Patnaik said, "It is not true that we were caught unawares. The fact that there could have been trouble prompted the joint commissioner of police (law and order) to camp at the protest site. However, it is true that we did not expect anyone to torch media vans. The trouble began when a group from outside the venue attacked the media van. It all happened within five minutes."
Bajaj and Seth could not be contacted.
According to the Mumbai Police, around 650 police personnel were deployed around Azad Maidan for Saturday's protest.
Former police officers said the police were clearly unprepared for the violence. "There is no mathematical formula as such for what sort of deployment there should be for a certain number of protestors. However, in my opinion, the protest was planned on a very sensitive issue, and I would have even gone to the extent of denying permission for it. Any mob congregation is a potential threat to law and order, and one should prepare for the worst," said former Mumbai Police commissioner M N Singh, who had denied permission to the BJP for staging rallies in the city after the Gujarat riots.
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