NEW DELHI, 11 JAN: Even after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal left the first ‘Janata Darbar’ or people’s hearing midway due to overcrowding, the police authorities maintain that the situation was not as bad as being projected.
However, the authorities did accept that they found themselves in a tricky situation as they gear up for future public meetings convened by the Delhi government.
Speaking about the scenes at the venue, Shweta Chauhan, ACP Kamla Market said: "The place was definitely over crowded but there was no stampede-like situation at the Durbar as it’s being reported". Talking about the turnout, she said, "Everyone wanted to be close to the CM so that he could hear their pleas and with the number of people that had come there, there are always chances of some kind of commotion".
Following his early departure from the gathering, the CM spoke to media and stated that he left the meeting midway because he feared a stampede.
Expected to be a hearing of mainly individuals who do not get ample spaces to put forth their concerns, the ‘durbar’ saw a large number of daily wagers attending it, who were urging Arvind Kejriwal to put an end to contract hiring.
"There were large groups of people in the crowd who wanted to meet Mr Kejriwal and we did not contemplate such groups joining the individuals at the durbar," said Chauhan.
Other police officials present at the venue concurred with the thoughts of ACP Chauhan. They added that had these groups given a different space all together, the situation would have been less chaotic given that the police personnel were not meant to contain large groups. There were reportedly 500 police personnel at the Delhi Secretariat for the public meeting and around 400-500 personnel of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
The number of security personnel did not help to fade away the chaos especially after the CM’s arrival. To make matters worse, a large number of AAP workers attended the meeting, who unlike others were not there to register their grievances.
A senior police official said: "The administration has to step up and propose practical solutions in such scenarios". The official expressed concerns about the future of these meeting as he believed that the attendance at the janta durbar will only inflate. "For a smooth functioning of the public meets, the organisers have to plan well in advance, otherwise crowd control will be a very serious issue."
He also promised to ‘streamline’ the system so that similar situation does not recur.