The Punjab and Haryana High Court gets representations and details as part of cases that are unnerving. But this week, judicial officers of Rohtak recounted their terrible experiences during the Jat agitation in February, pointing to a total breakdown of the law and order machinery.
The police, according to judicial officers, refused to even answer the calls of the judges who were worried for their own lives and those of their family members. Those who were lucky to have their phones answered were told by senior police officers to protect themselves. Even the personal security officers (PSOs) attached to the judges either fled or expressed inability to do much. The judges fled their houses and went to the parks with their families where many felt that it reminded of the times during partition days.
“It seems that when Rohtak was burning, there was no one to douse the fire,” writes Rohtak district and sessions judge in the report submitted to the High Court. “The state which owes a duty for the security of life and property of its people was nowhere. There was total collapse of administrative machinery.” The judge has incorporated tales of several judicial officers in his report. Meham Civil Judge Manoj Dahiya says that an unruly armed mob had entered the court premises. “My PSO was present, but he refused to give me the security cover and said he had to leave for his village,” said the Meham judge. “I along with my mother hid in the field the whole day.” The next day, the SHO answered his call “but he refused to provide any security and advised me to run away.”
The DSP also gave the same advice to the judge. The judge contacted a local who saved him and his mother by giving them shelter.
Civil judge Manjeet Pal was scared when his wife told him on phone that some agitators were trying to break the main gate of their house.
The police was informed, but not a single cop came. “SSP Sourabh Singh flatly refused to provide protection to the people, saying he was helpless,” he claims.
The Prakash Singh committee set up by the Manohar Lal Khattar government is looking into the acts of commission or omission by civil and police officers. While the state government this week transferred Director General of Police Y.P. Singhal and ADGP (CID) Shatrujit Kapoor, more heads may roll once the report is out.