14 states, 100,000 cops, one mission
The Commonwealth Games currently going on in Delhi is not merely a melting pot for prominent sports figures from various nations. Within India, the Games have brought together policemen and policewomen from 14 states to carry out the mammoth task of maintaining law and order during the much publicised event.
For most of these cops, this is their first visit to the capital. Some of them may not even be able to pronounce each others' names correctly, but that hasn't stopped them from interacting. As they exchange policing techniques and swap stories about personal experiences, these personnel from police teams across the country present a true image of the cliched concept of unity in diversity.
Reportage: Sahim Salim in Delhi
Image: An artist goes through a security check before his performance at the Commonwealth Games athletes Village in New Delhi
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters
'We had to fight the language barrier'
Meet A Temjen from the Nagaland Armed Police, who has already made two friends -- one from Punjab and one from Tamil Nadu.
"We have eight-hour shifts. During my first day here, I met Gurdayal Singh Bhullar from the Punjab Armed Police and P Singaraju from the 11th Battalion of the Tamil Nadu Special Police. Initially, we had to fight language and cultural barriers, but we soon overcame these. There are things that are different as we are all from varying cultural backgrounds, but what brought us together is the fact that we all are working to make the Commonwealth Games safe and secure," says Temjen, who leads a group of cops from the female battalion of Nagaland Police in Lodhi Colony area.
These personnel have been handpicked specifically to guard the Games as they are familiar with the modus operandi of terrorist groups or militant outfits from their areas, which may target the biggest sporting event ever to be held in India.
Image: Security and volunteers sit in some empty seats at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
Photographs: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
'We are familiar with the faces of terrorists'
"Having been selected like this, over so many others in our state force, makes me proud. Before this, I had not even seen the capital and probably never will (visit it again). But we know our business. We are familiar with the faces of terrorists from our areas. We are aware of their modus operandi and that is why we have been selected," says a policewomen from the 15th Nagaland Armed Police, posted outside the Connaught Place metro station.
A Kubenderan from the 14th Battalion of the Andhra Pradesh Special Police agrees with his counterpart from Nagaland. "Of all the forces in our state, we have been selected. We are happy and proud because it is like being recognised by our government. We are learning a lot from the men and women posted here from other states," he says.
Image: Paramilitary troopers patrol outside Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
'I am planning to experience north Indian cuisine'
"Language is a barrier for many of us here, as the cops from south and northeast India do not speak much Hindi. We have all been getting along by speaking in English. Beyond the cultural and language barriers, we are all the same," says Amrik Singh from the Punjab police.
Besides sharing tips and information on policing, some of them have also become good friends with each other.
"Since I have received training in counter-insurgency, I shared it with my new friends. In addition, Singh (Gurdayal Singh Bhullar from the Punjab Armed Police) and Singaraju (from 11th Battalion of the Tamil Nadu Special Police) have told me about their families and I have told them about mine. I am planning to experience north Indian and south Indian cuisines with them before we leave," informs Temjen.
Image: Policemen stand guard outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
Photographs: Krishnendu Halde/Reuters
'We have much to learn from the NE police teams'
State forces from north-eastern states of India, who are known for their excellent standards of policing, have managed to impress their peers and seniors from the capital. In fact, some fresh recruits from the Delhi police admit that the constant comparisons with their counterparts from the north-east are not particularly good for their self esteem.
"In our briefings, we are asked to look up to the forces from Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Even in our daily briefings, we are asked to adapt and copy their approach to duty. Though it is not very healthy for our self-image all the time, we comply, as they actually are very rigorous and disciplined in their duties. Moreover, they have received commando training, so we have much to learn from them," says a 22-year-old policeman, who has just been recruited in the Delhi police.
For the mega event, the Delhi police have deployed over 80,000 police personnel from existing and reserve battalions of the state police force. In addition, 195 companies from 14 different states and paramilitary forces have been deployed at the various venues.
Image: Security force personnel stand guard in New Delhi
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters