New Methods for Maintaining Law and Order

The sector method for bandobast

The sector method for bandobast proves very effective while handling situations like religious processions, religious festivals and celebrations, political movements, meetings and protest march, tense situations and political communal violence and terrorist attack.

The old system

  • In the North region, on every important occasion of maintaining law and order, in every police station, 2 /3 constables would be assigned to 18-21 points for bandobast

Map of Samata Nagar Police Station showing 21 points of Bandobast

  • If some untoward incident takes place near the point that has been assigned to a constable, according to the rules, such a fixed point constable cannot leave his place. As each point is independent, a staff member at one point could not go to the aid of another at a different point without receiving the relevant instructions from a Senior Police Inspector.
  • The older system of bandobast can be effective only for controlling traffic and crowds.
  • If a riot-like situation develops, the 2 or 3 staff assigned to a particular point are definitely not enough to placate the crowds. Then they are reduced to being bystanders.
  • If not, then they leave the place and go elsewhere for their own security.
  • If a mob which has gathered suddenly becomes even slightly aggressive, then the 2 or 3 staff deployed at that point are definitely not in a position to lathi charge them. In such situations, sometimes, out of fear they resort to firing. It becomes very difficult for their seniors as well as for the government to justify this kind of firing.
  • On the other hand, if a constable decides to be brave, he either gets seriously injured in the process or gets killed by the mob.
  • When the available manpower is distributed according to the old system, they get dispersed at different places and there they do not even have the facility to answer nature's call or rest for a while. Their meals cannot be transported to them in time. This adversely affects their efficiency. Since they are scattered it becomes very difficult to keep an eye on them and some lazy staff remain absent.

New System

  • The possibility of the recurrence of big incidents and accidents like bomb blasts, terrorist activities, the communal riots ensuing from these, political confrontations, locals vs. migrants' agitations, dalits vs. non-dalits agitations, etc. cannot be denied.
  • If one studies the possible points at which communal, political or regional clashes can take place within the jurisdiction of a particular police station, one can identify between 4 to 7 points for every police station. The entire area of a police station should be divided into 4 to 7 parts; each part is known as a Sector. Every sector can be equipped with at least 10 police staff, 1 officer, and 1 wireless mobile. On an average each police station has 8 mobiles (4 beat marshals 4 mobiles). Apart from the police staff, if the manpower of external agencies like SRPF, NCC and Home guards are included in each sector, the sector in-charge will have greater manpower at his disposal. In each sector, one centre should be identified where facilities should be provided for resting and it should also have a telephone and a bathroom. As far as possible a beat chowky should be selected. If a beat chowky is not there, some public place should be made the headquarters of that sector.
  • If at least 10 policemen are appointed at each point, i.e. as per section strength, if they are given the necessary firearms, if they are supported by the manpower of external agencies and if they are provided a mobile van, the police at such points will feel secure. Only when the police themselves feel secure can they take the initiative for the security of the public.
  • An officer of the rank of Police Inspector/Asst. Police Inspector/Police Sub-Inspector should be appointed as the head of a sector. He should have complete information about the staff and resources available in the sector. The sector head can deploy the staff at his disposal in his area as per the requirements of his sector.
  • The sector in-charge / officer must have all the information recorded in the intelligence network strengthening 133 points registers pertaining to his sector.
  • In times of peace, fixed points or patrolling can be changed every two hours. If there is an occasion of controlling crowds or traffic in a sector, the sector head can appoint the staff with him in ones or twos. The rest of the staff can rest at the sector headquarters.
  • In times of peace, the sector head can appoint alternating pairs, one carrying a lathi and the other carrying firearms, for about 2 hours each, to patrol wherever necessary in that sector.

Map of Samta Nagar Police Station showing 4 Sectors of Bandobast

  • If it is felt that at a certain place the staff strength is low and it is perceived that they face a threat of being attacked, then that staff should immediately go to the sector headquarters, take the necessary reinforcements and then return to control the mob.
  • When the time comes to confront a violent mob, the sector head can gather everyone and then deal with the mob.
  • Due to the availability of a sizeable number of police force, the sector head can give the appropriate orders for action within his area of jurisdiction. So there is moral and legal binding/responsibility on the sector head.
  • If a road is particularly long, it should be divided into 3 or 4 parts. The part which is near the sector can be included within the sector and can be kept under control.
  • At the time of bandobast if there is an important bit of information or an order to be conveyed, the sector head will ensure that the information reaches everyone concerned in his sector and will personally ensure implementation of the orders.
  • It is acceptable to permanently post a large group of men at highly sensitive areas such as masjids or near idol immersion sites.
  • Senior Police Inspector will exercise overall supervision on all the sectors in his police stations. In cases in which the sector heads are unable to deal with the law and order situation, Senior Police Inspector, Asst. Commissioner of Police or Dy. Commissioner of Police will, as the situation necessitates, take a strike force and go to their aid.

A chicken and her chicks

One officer and a few staff are assigned for the bandobast of a meeting, morcha or procession. Often during the bandobast, the staff roam here and there. Suddenly when trouble erupts, the police are unable to take collective action. So even if a large number of people are assigned bandobast duty, because they are scattered, in an emergency situation, effective action cannot be taken. Follow the example of a chicken who herds her chicks, when you are doing bandobast duty. The chicken never moves on her own. All her chicks are always with her. Just like the chicken and her chicks, if the officer and his staff always remain together during bandobast duty, when trouble does erupt, collective action can be taken immediately, and the law and order situation will be dealt with effectively. And just like the chicken, the officer will take care of the needs of his officers, see that they get food and rest.

One day is yours but the rest are ours

Peace loving Hindus and Muslims were brought together on one platform through the medium of the Mohalla Committee. Simultaneously the `one day is yours but the rest are ours' programme was implemented against those initiating or instigating communal disharmony.

During religious festivals, events and processions, the following incidents can increase the tension in the city:

  • Forcibly collecting a contribution.
  • Dancing obscenely in a drunken state.
  • Shouting provocative slogans against another religion.
  • A procession lingering outside the places of worship of another religion.
  • Throwing gulal/Red powder or something like gulal on people not connected to the procession.
  • Throwing gulal or similar substances on the place of worship of another religion.
  • Having decoration which can upset religious or political sentiments.
  • Transporting meat in an uncovered state.
  • Killing animals whose slaughter has been banned.
  • Insulting any idol of worship.
  • Eve teasing.

It has been suggested that in order to decrease the tension arising out of religious festivals and processions, the events themselves should be banned. But this cure is far more terrible than the disease itself.

  • The `one day is yours but the rest are ours' programme proves very effective in stopping provocative incidents.
  • `One day is yours' means the day belongs to people who indulge in petty mischief and `the rest of the days' are ours means the remaining days belong to the police.
  • People are present in large numbers on days of processions or events and the strength of the police is proportionately less. At such times if the police take action against the mischief-mongering people the situation becomes tense.
  • That is the reason why if the situation is not worsening due to petty mischief or is not getting out of hand, the police should pretend as if they are not paying too much attention to that incident but at the same time should note down the names of the mischief-mongers.
  • The police should ignore such incidents only for that day. A couple of days after the festival/event/procession is over, they should nab the persons involved in the incidents and should register cases of petty crimes against them.
  • As soon as a person indulging in petty mischief comes to the notice of the police they should blacklist him and in future before every festive occasion, they should take preventive action against him.
  • When I decided to implement this plan in Bhiwandi, a public declaration of this programme of `one day is yours, the rest are ours' was made. It was declared that the names of the mischief-mongering people and clubs/groups would be noted that day and later after the function was over, action would be initiated against them.
  • From the five police stations of Bhiwandi, 75 staff & officers were selected. They were asked to stand at key locations in plain clothes.
  • They were asked to only note down the names of the mischief-mongering people and clubs/groups.
  • Those officers and staff who were on bandobast duty in uniform, were also asked to take down names. This plan was first implemented on the day of Bakri Id in the year 1988.
  • The day after the festival, inquiries were made among the people. About 15 names of people who had carried uncovered meat and had not obeyed reasonable orders, came up during these inquiries. Action was taken against them under Mumbai Police Act, Sections 110, 112 and 117.
  • The court slapped fines between Rs 15-50 on these people. The mischief-mongers who had been caught started saying that they had paid the fines. What more can the police do? The plan does not end here. After that came the Ganesh Festival. The 15 people who had been caught after Bakri Id were rounded up again and were made to sit in the police station as a preventive measure. During the Ganesh Festival too, names were jotted down. After the Ganesh Festival culminated, action was taken against 80 people under the Bombay Police Act, Sections 110, 112 and 117. Again the court fined them between Rs 15 and 50. After that came the Navratri festival.
  • The people who had been caught during the Bakri Id and the Ganesh festival were brought to the police station as a preventive measure and during the Navratri festival, again names were noted down. In this manner this plan was implemented for three years in a row and about 500 people were blacklisted.
  • When people realized that throwing gulal or being caught in an inebriated state led to their being blacklisted, many of them decided to keep away from processions.
  • Communal leaders tried to pressurize the police by saying that religious sentiments are hurt when the police interfere in religious matters.
  • Some names were removed from the list because of the insistence of Mohalla Committee members and political leaders.
  • The work of preparing a proposal, against provocative political leaders, under the National Security Act, was started.
  • The police kept up their work in a firm and determined way. The message was sent out loud and clear that we the police would take action against the abuse of our religion and would work to preserve the sanctity of our religion.
  • The sensible people from both the religions realised that the police were not against any religion but were taking action against the mischievous acts perpetrated under the name of religion. So the police got support. Provocative communal leaders got isolated.

The results observed at Bhiwandi

  • In the third year the time taken by the Ganesh festival processions reduced by nine hours.
  • The purchase of gulal (red powder) came down to 25 kg from 25 sacks - each containing 50 kgs!
  • Instead of throwing gulal, people started applying it to foreheads.
  • As the processions finished within the given time, there was lesser strain on the police force.
  • Communal tensions did not rise.

The results expected at North Region Mumbai

  • The incidents at every police station will be recorded and this will give an idea about the level of tension.
  • Action can be taken in whichever cases deemed necessary and the so-called social and political activists can be kept on a leash.
  • In the future if, unfortunately, a larger incident does take place, the action already taken can be useful in the defence of the police.
  • We have not yet found a magic wand that will do away with riots and crimes. But if action as delineated above is taken, preventive measures are taken, and a record is kept of the same, one can avoid being questioned by an Inquiry Commission or Departmental Inquiry.
  • In times of crisis the police force does not have a better saviour than a record.