Washing out protesters

The anti-riot vehicle imported from Korea in 2008 has been used thrice so far by the police to ‘wash out’ protests. Incidentally, they have always ended up using it against employees of the Education Department.

The police force of the city has been criticised for baton-charging protesters —sometimes injuring them badly — to disperse them from advancing towards or gathering near some sensitive place. Therefore, the Police Department imported a water cannon which they can use against mobs without injuring them.

However, only the employees of the Education Department have had to bear the brunt of this anti-riot vehicle. It was first used in May 2010 against teachers protesting for promotion and pay raise. Thereafter, it was used twice last week against the former non-teaching staff of the Education Department who wanted to gather outside the Chief Minister’s House to press for their restoration.

A police official said the Sindh Police Department had purchased the vehicle in 2007-08 from Korea at Rs70 million. It is parked on the premises of the Security Headquarters of SPD and is manned by six policemen and a driver who have been especially trained for operating this vehicle.

Initially, when the vehicle was imported no single official knew how to operate it; therefore, the Police Department had to call an engineer from Korea to train a crew for the vehicle.

Two police mobiles escort the water-cannon vehicle whenever it’s used during riots.

Apart from its use during riots, the police have also used it to extinguish fire during Ashura violence.

It also has the capability of firing tear gas. Its other unique function is that it can pump out a coloured chemical which is impossible to wash away. It helps the police to identify certain protesters.

The discharge distance is 40 to 60 meters linearly, and it is automatically regulated through a screen. It also has a vacuum pump and a water gallon tank with the capacity of 7,000 gallons of water.

It has a self-protection system that guards it against fire.

If rioters ever attempt to torch the vehicle, it has an automatic system for extinguishing the fire. In an event like that, it starts gushing water from all sides immediately and puts the fire out before it can do any damage to the vehicle.

The vehicle, however, is not bullet-proof as its cost was so high that the departmental heads had initially refused to give their nod for installing one. However, they may know change their mind considering the law and order situation in the city.

He also said that the vehicle had digital cameras on all four sides that can capture footage of rioters.

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