On crackdown on peaceful protestors
Talking for first time after the brutal police crackdown on the peaceful protesters at India Gate on Sunday, in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBNEditor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde says the police crackdown was necessary as hooligans had joined the crowd.
He talks about the measures taken by the government while dodging the question on resignation of Delhi police commissioner. He feels bad for Saturday's police crackdown at the India Gate, but does not apologise:
You people criticise us from both sides. On Saturday, the protestors went up to the North block. They tried to break into the Rashtrapati Bhawan; a prestigious house, and the image of the country. If they would have gone there, you would have criticised me. That's why we are very strict on this thing.
It went out of control when the hooligans joined the protestors. One of my constables is seriously critical. Eighteen policemen are injured. The hooligans can't be identified in a crowd of 3,000 people. It is the demonstrators who should find your people and you should not allow the goondas.
On police using disproportionate force
The incident happened on December 16, and by next day morning four accused were arrested. Subsequently two more were arrested. We had announced that we will take it to a fast track court.
We had also said that stricter law will be brought in to deal with violence against women. On Saturday, I announced the committee of three judges to be headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice J S Verma. They have given a month's time to decide on what kind of punishment to be given for rape cases and the enhancement in punishment.
I have already put my officers to enquire Sunday's incident. The preliminary information says that they (protestors) started throwing stones at the police. We will do an inquiry and book them. We will not let anybody get away like that.
The government has taken action, cancelling the licence of the bus. I spoke in the House and in the subsequent press conference about the steps taken.
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Image: A policeman tries to stop demonstrators in front of the India Gate
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
On not meeting the protestors at India Gate
"It's very easy to ask the Home minister to go to India Gate and speak. If tomorrow any other party's demonstration goes on why should not the Home minister go there?
Tomorrow the Bharatiya Janata Party will demonstrate; Maoists will also come here to demonstrate with weapons. You should understand the government's role. The government should not go anywhere. This can happen with any government.
On comparing protestors with Maoists
Since the day they statrted the agitation, I had met them in my house, in my office, I met their representative. After doing all these (things) if they say we want justice, what kind of justice will we give? There should be some limit, we have accepted all the demands."
On trial of the case
I am going to talk to the concerned person on a day-to-day hearing to make a quick decision. For the future (in Delhi), the Lt governor and the chief minister both had the committees of Home Guards and Civil Defence attached to every police station.
I am going to ask the lieutenant governor to start immediately on that count.
There are rapes happening other places in the country. The government is taking note of it -- I have convened a meeting of all chief secretaries and deputy generals of police in Delhi on January 4."
On fast track courts dealing with rape casesIn that meeting I will take account of the situation in their respective states about rape cases and the action taken. It takes time and it just does not happen overnight.
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Image: Police use water cannons to dispese protestors
Why did they take law into their hands?
This government...both the leaders – Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi are very serious. Soniaji met with the student deligation at midnight. At least they should have respected that request. Why did they take law into their hands the next day?
On PM not addressing nation since the past one week
I request the electronic media to understand the situation. Today we are in the government, and tomorrow we may not be. We are also citizens of this country. My colleagues and I, and even the police commissioner have daughters. We are also very serious about it. We are helping in every possible way. I appeal to you to assist us in this. The government will act on the given assurance.
On the police commissioner's resignation
I don't talk about these things in such a situation. Once the situation is calm and quiet, I will look into it. I will certainly take action and not spare anyone. I have information that senior police officers will also be coming under suspension.
On the night of the incident, three out of five CCTVs were not working. They nabbed the accused the next morning. It didn't take even 24 hours.
On FIRs and low conviction rate
That is the reason I have called the meeting on January 4. I have taken over the responsibility only four months ago. I will not boast about the government. I am with the public and also sensitive towards the people.
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Image: Delhi police charge at demonstrators at India Gate with lathis on Sunday
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
I understand the anger of the people
On the VIP culture (on separating VIP security and general policing)
It is certainly a good suggestion. I will look into it. I will take all suggestions and examine them.
On CCTV cameras at police stations (for filing of FIRs)
This is a good suggestion. I will consider it.
On special session of Parliament
There is no need of special session of Parliament. You will see our action then you will realise. We have given a month's time to this committee. I will request them to give their suggestions as early as possible and we will act upon them.
On image of the country
I understand the anger of the people. People have suffered; I have been seeing that since the last four-five years. I know people are irritated.
On apologising for police crackdown
I feel bad for them. You should read between the lines. This could have stopped after these people met Soniaji. When she has given her assurance, this will stop.
Image: Demonstrators damage a government vehicle after they overturn it in front of the India Gate
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters