Mohalla Committees Opposed by Colleagues

The idea of establishing Mohalla committees struck me accidentally.  May be the village community meetings I had witnessed as a child were in some way responsible for this sudden inspiration.  There were frequent quarrels in our small hamlet.  Brothers broke each other’s crowns on account of over farm disputes.  Neighbors quarreled.  I never saw the matters being taken to the police station or the court.  These matters were settled in the evening in front of the village temple with the village elders.  I explained this village community scheme to all my colleagues and asked them to implement the Mohalla Committee on the guidelines given earlier.

Since I had issued clear orders, the colleagues had no choice but to hold the meetings.  I used to check whether they in fact held the meeting.  I chased those who avoided holding  these meetings. After a couple of meetings were held in each police station area, the sub-inspectors collectively suggested to me that these meetings were of no use.  The meetings according to them were straining police-public relations.  Such hostility was likely to increase day by day.  The close intimacy created due to the meetings with the people would destroy the awe in which the police were regarded.  This would lead to lessening of the fear of police and lead to an increase in crime.  Hence, it was advisable to stop the meetings.  It was true those police inspectors and Sub inspectors were finding it difficult and unpleasant to hold such meetings.  But none of them was giving me the real reason for their discomfort.  I had found out the real reason.

The Police came under a heavy barrage of criticism in such meetings.  Some members used to ask, “Inspector Saheb, why are you merely holding the meeting when you have not detected a single theft in our area?  Your Head Constable Salunkhe is extremely rude & arrogant.  He talks to us with his legs crossed over the table at the station.  Forget detecting the case, he refuses to even register it. Sale of illicit liquor is rampant in our area and so is gambling. Why don’t you do something about all this?  There is no policemen available to tackle the traffic Jam……” 

Scores of such complaints were shot at the officers in the meetings.  It was extremely difficult for the officer to face this hail of questions.  Some sort of evasive, vague and superficies replies, full of excuses, were given by my officers in the maiden meetings.  However, they had to face the people again in the next fortnightly meeting.  This accountability was difficult to manage.  They found themselves between the devil & the deep sea.  So all the officers had come together to tell me that the meetings were useless & counter productive. I realized their predicament.  I told them I would myself attend their meeting to find out why the people were so displeased with the police.  As planned, the Dhamankar naka Moholla Committee meeting was held under my chairmanship. Knowing that the deputy commissioner of police was himself holding the meeting, a large crowd had gathered.  All police officers sat to my left.  As usual, the people fired their salvo.  “Why are no thefts detected?  Heads Constable behave rudely.  They do not register our complaints.  They turn a blind eye to the nefarious activities in our area.”  All police officers were eager to see how I face these questions.

I got up to speak.  “I accept all your criticism of the police.  I admit publicly that we policemen are no paragons of virtue.  We are not saints or Mahatmas.  We too are a part of the society.  We hail form the society and share the vices and virtues in the society.  We therefore have your virtues & vices.” The audience was stunned into silence.  I continued, “But the fact remains that my colleagues and I have turned up in your mohalla.  Our intentions are absolutely clear.  We want to establish peace in your area with your co-operation.  We do not want recurrence of Hindu/Muslim riots in your area.  We want to banish these riots from your area.  We want to remove the apprehension of such riots in the minds of the poor, the weak & the innocent.”  I could make out from the expression that they were getting convinced.  “All of our police officers & men have come to your area with the object of establishing communal harmony & peace.  Those who are criticizing us today should openly tell us whether they get the extracts of their 7/12 land records or the reports of the city survey.  Have the revenue officers ever come to your area to inquire about this?  Do you get power supply regularly?  Have any officers of the Electricity Board ever come to your area to inquire about this?  Do you get regular water supply?  Is your area cleaned by the municipality staff properly?  Have the Municipal officers ever come to your area to inquire about this?

I on the contrary have come to your area along with all my staff to seek your co-operation in maintaining peace.  Yet you are criticizing us.  Have I committed a mistake in coming to you?  We have done nothing wrong.  Our intentions are clear.”  The moment I finished my speech.  There was a thunderous and spontaneous applause from the crowd.  There was profuse clapping by the hundreds.  I could clearly read the face of my colleagues.  They were enthused.

There after police officers started holding regular meetings.  People stopped the criticism. The Mohalla committee meeting were followed by a community lunch.  People criticizing the police turned into their well-wishers. Their outlook about the police changed.  They started saying, “Corruption is rampant everywhere.  Why single out the police?”  People started realizing that the police are ill paid and don’t even have proper housing.  They started discussing all this in the Mohalla committees.

It is a fact that the Mohalla Committee faced a lot of teething trouble.  The scheme goes through three phases.  There is lot of confusion in the first meetings.  People fire varied questions.  They do not understand the purpose of the meeting.  People resist the change.  The age old misunderstands and prejudices against the police came to the fore.  Police inefficiency is severely criticized.  This first stage is the Chaotic Stage. 
Then in the next stage people gradually start understanding the purpose of the meeting.  A meaningful dialogue commences.  They start listening to each other.  This is the Communication Stage. 

The frequent meetings & communications lead to mutual respect & love.  After all man is a social animal.  This is the Emotional Stage.  It is necessary to maintain the frequency of meetings to sustain this third stage.