In a large and diverse country like India, authorities are regularly confronted with large-scale protests, riots; incidents of mass civil disorder and crowd disasters. While keeping in focus the NDMA guidelines on Crowd Disaster Management, discuss the various issues faced by state governments.
In Indian democracy right to protest is a fundamental aspect. While the peaceful assembly is allowed, protests sometimes take a violent turn. With increasing population of India, the instances of large masses gathering are more frequent, making crowd control difficult. Therefore for better crowd control, NDMA had released a set of guidelines for deployment of snake line approach, Crowd monitoring, alternative routes to release crowd pressure and accessibility of emergency exits at all times.
Also, Ambulance and healthcare professionals should be available round-the-clock at the venues. As per guidelines event organizers should have plans to handle VIP visitors or, it is better to refuse entry to VIPs where it adds to safety concerns. There should be a public address system, with loudspeakers installed at all crowded points.
Guidelines also list the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders & there should be disaster management plan in coordination with others including local administration and police.
However, there are various issues which state government face while handling violent crowd gathering.During civil unrest, state police forces are unable to deal with the situation. State forces face issues of manpower crunch, also there is lack of adequate training and proper equipment. This forces state governments to seek help from the Centre which, in turn, deploys the CAPFs. There is an issue of lack of coordination between center and state. Sometimes the states are criticised for inaction while sometimes states are criticised for excessive force against the crowd. The police fail to handle the events either due to indifference or, in some cases, being complicit in dealing with the mob. Politicisation of the police forces makes the issue more complex.
Prakash Singh Committee recommended that “states should have some teams specially trained and equipped to deal with mobs. Crowd disasters are man-made disasters & with proper policy making, planning, execution along with well-trained personnel it can be prevented. Also, there should be information dissemination system so that false news during such events can be prevented.