133 Points Register for Strengthening the Intelligence Network

The success or failure of a police force is dependent on how strong or weak its intelligence network is. It does not matter how many extra officers are enlisted into the Special branch to strengthen the intelligence network—it will not make much of a difference. That is because the system has many limitations. I had experienced these limitations as I worked for three years at the State Intelligence Department (SID). Unfortunately, the intelligence network in the North Region is very weak. Genuinely secret information can be obtained only at the level of the police station. Currently, out of the 150-200 staff employed at each station, only 2 or 3 staff members are involved in the work of extracting secret information through mill special duty. So the information obtained is very superficial and brief.

Due to the lack of good information, the entire police station works like an emergency operation. In police stations the stress is on appointing policemen in uniform at fixed points to control crimes and on patrolling in wireless equipped mobile vehicles. The constables at the fixed points have no information at all about the area. They have no interaction with the decent people around. They are just sitting around for hours on end. The criminals are not afraid of them. They become like scarecrows in a farm. Initially, the scarecrow manages to scare away the birds from the crop but with time the birds become so bold that they sit on the scarecrow's head and feast on the crop.

That is the reason why we wanted the 133 points register to be created and we started testing whether each staff member was aware of the information in it. We used each and every staff member and officer assigned to each police station to strengthen our intelligence network. For that we implemented the `133 points register for strengthening the intelligence network' programme and it was highly successful. According to the plan of restructuring the working of a police station, every constable was assigned a mohalla as his area. Every constable collected information about 133 different topics in his mohalla and noted it down in the register. Information about criminals, politicians, respectable citizens and other big and small information of a mohalla became known. At the same time, a dialogue with the people was initiated and consequently, the intelligence network of the police station of every mohalla gained in strength with each passing day. (see Appendix 4)

Teaching through theatre

The police constable investigates crime, keeps crime under control, maintains law and order, and is a representative of the system which is charged with creating a sense of safety and security among the lay public. He shoulders a huge responsibility—he has to deal with a wide spectrum of dispute and violence, ranging from ordinary marital discord to the violent activities of terrorists. And for this he is equipped with training that lasts only for nine months. He has a wooden rod about a hand and a half in length to defend himself with. They find a huge difference between the task they expect and the task they are faced with. During the course of their job they do not get an opportunity to learn new things or develop their personality.

In the North region we implemented the idea of teaching through the medium of theatre to increase the professional knowledge of the police staff. For example, while imparting information/training about the subject of murder, it does not suffice to rote learn the definition of Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. One can't remember it for long. But if the situation of a murder, the handling of the case in the court and the judge's subsequent verdict are all dramatized in the form of a play, the staff remembers it much better. Research has proved that if an incident is seen and heard, it is etched 25 times more effectively in the brain. So various topics were assigned to each police station in the North Region, the North Region office, the various departments such as wireless, and the control room. It was decided that every case that was successfully solved at each police station, irrespective of whether it met with success or failure in the courts, would be dramatized and presented as an enactment. The dramatization would begin with the incident of crime and end with the court case and its verdict. It was made mandatory that the actors in the play would strictly consist of the staff assigned to police stations. This experiment was immensely successful. Later these dramatized incidents were even adapted for TV serials. The police staff would watch these serials on CD on the TV sets at the police stations, in their spare time. In this manner they were not only entertained but they also gained more knowledge and this definitely increased the quality of their training.

Religious tolerance through festivals and events

In my office in the North region there were many photos of various gods and goddesses. I told one of my staff to take all of them to his house. In most police stations one comes across photos of Hindu gods and goddesses. Ganesh idols are ceremoniously installed. Satyanarayan pujas are conducted. It is as if the entire police station is only made up of Hindus. Nobody sees anything wrong in this.

I realize that removing these photos from the police station is a delicate issue. Rather than saying that all the photos of Hindu Gods and Goddesses be removed, I issued a written diktat that the festivals of all religions should be celebrated with equal vigour. Religious heads/preachers of Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and Jainism were invited to give lectures. Every staff member of the police station slowly realised that the religion of the others is as important as his own religion and that it advocates a philosophy that is similar to the one taught by his own religion. So there was a definite change in their perception of other religions. I had experienced this change in Bhiwandi.

Bhiwandi is infamous as a city of riots. A study of the riots in this place revealed that Muslims stabbed to death Hindus or people who looked like Hindus with a cry of "Nare takbeer, Allah ho Akbar". On the other hand the Hindus stabbed to death or burnt alive Muslims or people who looked like Muslims with cries of "Jay Bhawani, Jay Shivaji, Har Har Mahadeo". How could Islam that had the concept of Allah, and Hinduism that had the concept of Bhawani or Mahadeo, advocate the ruthless killing of people? I made an attempt to try and understand both the religions _Islam and Hinduism. My knowledge of Hinduism was restricted to fasting on special days like Chaturthi and Ekadashi and bowing before idols in every temple I entered. I read many books on Hinduism. Later all the complicated philosophy kind of numbed my brain and I had to go a little easy on the reading; but the philosophies of God, salvation, Karma, I realized that Hinduism had the potential of being a universal religion.

On the other hand, I found Islam very clear, simple to understand, and straight, very much like some minor Act. When I understood its concepts of God, the Prophet, Holy Koran, Jakat, Roje, Haj Yatra and Akhirat, I thought that even this religion, like my religion, has the potential to be a universal religion. The meaning of the word `Islam' itself means entering peace. The biases that I had about Islam were completely destroyed.

In 1989, somewhere in some part of the world, Islam and the Prophet Mohammad were insulted and to protest this incident, Muslims took out big morchas in many places in Maharashtra. But no such morcha was taken out in Bhiwandi. In the next monthly meeting, the Thane Police Commissioner had lavished praise on the Bhiwandi police and me. Why was I publicly applauded by a Commissioner who never had a word of praise for anyone, no matter how much the good work done? I was quite surprised. I hadn't shown any extraordinary bravery to merit such praise. As part of the nationwide protest, the maulavis in Bhiwandi had planned a morcha. As per the custom, I had invited all the maulavis over to my office for discussion. I talked to them at length about how I had had misconceptions about Islam, but how after a deep study I realised that this religion advocates equality, compassion for the poor and peace. Finally, I asked them what the nature of their morcha would be. To that they all replied, "Sir, we will do as you say."

I told them, "If you want to express your protest, four of you come to my office and I will forward your protest to the government."

They all agreed. The next day four people arrived in an autorickshaw, gave me their statement of protest and went away. When I showed due respect for their religion, they trusted me. In the police force, most people have hatred for people belonging to a different faith and this hatred stems from their ignorance of other religions. I learnt a few lessons from this Bhiwandi incident. If the police understand the other religions, their biases about them will be destroyed and they will earn the trust of people belonging to all faiths. And then the police will take an impartial stand in each situation.

One comes across narrow-minded communalism and religious sentiments in some police staff. They have a bias against other castes and religions. They have many preconceived notions. I found that the main reason for this attitude was their lack of knowledge of other religions. And whatever little knowledge they might have is influenced by the rhetoric of communal-minded leaders of political parties. So the festivals of all religious faiths, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Christian, started being celebrated in the office and police station along with the birth and death anniversaries of national leaders. Learned persons belonging to different faiths or sects were invited and were asked to provide guidance. All constables gave a very enthusiastic response to this programme.

Rehabilitation of novice criminals : Ram-Shyam Encounter

My initial belief, when I started out my career that criminal tendencies can be controlled only by the threat of a gun, changed quite a bit in my later days. There were reasons behind this change of attitude. On entering the police force, my first posting was as Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Panvel. Two murderous robbers Ram and Shyam were making life hell for the Adivasis. They committed their first murder in the year 1960 and escaped into the Hajimalang jungle. After that for the next 22 years they were absconding. The Thane and Raigad police wanted them in connection with seven murders and numerous robberies. I was amazed by the fact that for 22 years the combined police force of two districts, numbering close to 6000, with almost an equal number of firearms, could not catch two gun-toting men. I was young and had the advantageous background of the social activist so I did a thorough study and on 14 February 1982, I raided their hideout. There was gunfire from both sides. I was hit by three bullets, one each on the chest, thigh and near the ankle. My fellow Head Constable, Ramesh Ghosalkar was critically injured. Even in that injured state we managed to kill both of them. It was a real encounter. I wrote a book on my experience of tracking down and killing these two bandits. During my study of why and how these two became criminals, I learnt a great deal of criminology. I think that the idea that the environment plays a crucial role in shaping or creating a criminal is an important one.

The surrender of Jwalasingh

Later, when I was the Superintendent of Pune rural, Jwalasingh, belonging to the so called criminal Kanjarbhat community was wreaking havoc across Maharashtra and other states. Other district chiefs were using traditional methods like sending `A' role, sending `B' role, nakabandi, night patrolling, opening history sheets, obtaining information and so on, in their efforts to nab Jwalasingh. I was convinced that these methods were no longer that effective. We decided to adopt unconventional methods. We established Mohalla Committees in every village of Pune district and enrolled 1 lakh, 21 thousand people as members. We created a night patrolling unit of the residents in every village and with the help of the sector method, night patrolling was started under the supervision of the police.

We asked the professors of the Gokhale Institute to prepare a questionnaire for us, which would enable us to study the economic, social and religious profile of the Kanjarbhat community. The study revealed that the entire community did not have criminal tendencies, rather only 3 to 4 per cent people of the community were involved in criminal activities. We started holding get-togethers of the Kanjarbhat community. We started conducting workshops on education and health for them. We earned their trust. We explained to the Kanjarbhat community that because of only 3 to 4 per cent criminals, the entire community had got a bad reputation and innocent people were being harassed by the police. Convinced, they agreed to help. Thanks to the patrolling of the Mohalla Committee and the opposition of the community, Jwalasingh and his men moved out of Maharashtra into other states. With the help of the information obtained from the community members, raids were conducted on Jwalasingh's gang. A criminal named Modaya got caught. When he was brought before me, instead of arresting him, I told him that if he gave up his criminal activities, he would definitely be rehabilitated. This proved to be reassuring for the other criminals, they were convinced of our intentions, and one by one, they started coming over to our side. We did not arrest them; instead we deployed them for night patrolling and used them in our efforts to catch Jwalasingh. Jwalasingh started getting raided from all sides. I personally went and met Jwalasingh's parents and wife. I gave them the assurance that if Jwalasingh surrendered unconditionally, we would not shoot him and after he had served time for all the crimes that he was guilty of, he would be rehabilitated. Jwalasingh's aunt took the initiative of winning him over. The other team threatened him that if he refused to surrender, he would be shot dead. We used the Good Cop/Bad Cop technique. We were able to spin a web around Jwalasingh because of the patrolling by the Mohalla Committees all over the district, their alertness, the opposition of the community to Jwalasingh's activities, the surrender of his comrades, and the frequent raids on his hideouts. He had only two options left. He could either continue to be a fugitive and one day get killed by the police or surrender. Jwalasingh went for the second option. Through a middleman, a meeting was arranged on the hillock of Alandi. On meeting me, he fell at my feet and said, "Saheb, please forgive me, don't send me to the court." I replied in no uncertain terms, "everyone is equal before the law. I will not give you false assurances. If you don not want to appear before the court, you can go. But then we will catch you in our own way. Think it over for two days and let me know. You may go now." Jwalasingh went away and after two days sent a message that he accepted my conditions. On 10 January, 1998, Jwalasingh and 20 of his top comrades surrendered to me. The police force of Maharashtra and other states heaved a sigh of relief once Jwalasingh and his gang came back into the mainstream of society. The criminal activity was curbed. He has served time for all his crimes and now he stays near Pune with his family.

Rehabilitation of Pardhis

In the Phaltan region of Satara district, there was an ongoing dispute between the pardhi and non-pardhi farmers. The local farmers had a lot of complaints against the pardhis `they steal our crops. Sometimes they break into houses and steal or if they spot a lone farmer, they rob him. They lodge false cases under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. They make false complaints to the Human rights Commission. The Pardhis would lodge complaints against the non-pardhi farmers, saying that these big farmers falsely accuse us of robbing them and get us arrested, they abuse our wives, and so on. When I was Satara Police Superintendent, I started getting complaints from both parties. Some local farmers expressed their fear to me that perhaps there could be an attack on the Pardhi community on the lines of the mass murders that had been committed in Dhoki village of Maharashtra. I called a meeting of the zamindars/landlords in the Phaltan police station area. The two sides were in confrontation with each other and both needed police intervention. Out of this necessity was born the novel experiment of the Pardhi Rehabilitation Programme of Satara district.

With the help of professors from the Gokhale Institute of Economics, a comprehensive questionnaire was drawn up and the economic, social and religious profile of the pardhi families was studied. In this survey, we came across about 3 to 4 per cent people who were registered as hardened criminals in the police record. In the community there were some who indulged in petty thefts. But the rest of the community earned their living from labour. Some even had sizeable farmland under cultivation. Because of those 3 or 4 percent criminals the entire community had earned a bad name as a community of criminals. If a robbery took place in the neighbouring areas, it would be assumed that the pardhis had committed the crime and the police would raid the pardhi settlements. Some people would be caught and brought to the police station. They would mostly be innocent. It was not as if the real criminals would sit at home and wait for the police to come and catch them. Household utensils would be thrown around. The huts of some would get destroyed. Many innocent Pardhis would find themselves at the receiving end of both, the police as well as the big farmers. So a plan was formulated wherein all the non-criminal pardhis were brought together to isolate the criminal pardhis. Educational meets were organized at various places and books were distributed to children in schools. Health camps were organized in which trained doctors conducted health check-ups of Pardhi women and children. Arrangements were made to look into their complaints. Word was spread that just because of some criminals the entire community had earned a reputation of being criminal. Through the medium of get-togethers, needy and old pardhis were given items of household utility by local landlords. Non-criminal pardhis were made members of Mohalla Committees. This meant that pardhis were not only equal participants in Mohalla Committee meetings along with the Deshmukhs, Patils and Brahmins of the village but also started contributing to the development programmes of the village. Pardhis are very slender and agile and so the responsibility of the security of the village was entrusted to them. Each village was allotted one or two families. These families were asked to carry out night patrolling and it was their responsibility to ensure that no robberies would take place within the limits of the village allotted to them. In return for their security arrangements the villagers would have to pay the pardhis in kind with grains or with money. If felt necessary, the family members of these pardhis could work as labourers for the farmers of the village. The pardhi family had to take care that they were not visited by their criminal relatives, if any. But in case such a person did visit the family, it was made the family's responsibility to ensure that he did not commit any crime. Under this scheme specific villages were allotted to the pardhis and so the village panchayat too gave the pardhis space to stay within the village. A few landowners gave their private land to the pardhis. In fact, some rich landowners even built houses for the pardhis on their land.

A deliberate effort was made to change the way the police officers and the staff viewed the pardhi community. In my experience up to now, I have observed that the lower level police staff honestly loves to do constructive work. The pardhis' problem of earning a livelihood was resolved. So they did not feel the need to commit petty thefts. The responsibility of the security of the village was entrusted to the pardhis. Since this is considered a very important task, capable of being handled by only manly and brave people, the pardhis took immense pride in this responsibility. They not only got to do the work they liked, it also added to their prestige. When felt necessary, they were given the opportunity to work as farm labourers in the same village. So criminal pardhis found it impossible to use the excuse of leaving the village for good. The pardhis, who had earlier lived a life of ignominy outside village limits, were now members of Mohalla Committees which elevated their status. A group of people which had been neglected for hundreds of years had now been assimilated into the mainstream of society. The same police staff who had raided their homes were now issuing ration cards to them, were taking their children to school. They started explaining the government's new schemes to them.

The police officers and their staff preferred doing this rehabilitation work to what they been doing earlier with the pardhis—catching innocent pardhis suspected of criminal activity, raiding their homesteads, arguing with the pardhi women and as a result of all this facing an inquiry of the Human Rights Commission. They got a chance to prove that though they were men in a khaki uniform they were after all human beings capable of doing meaningful work. Petty crimes were no longer committed and there was a considerable decrease in the incidence of big robberies and dacoities. Landlords were no longer fearful of visiting their farmland at odd hours in the night. The village slept peacefully and fearlessly as the pardhis patrolled during the night. Later, in a bid to increase participation in the pardhi rehabilitation programme, a workshop was conducted at Satara. Social workers, sociologists, voluntary organizations were involved in this workshop. Arrangements were made for the education of the pardhi children. Officers of the social welfare department of the government were invited to provide information to the pardhis regarding the facilities that the government had provided for the pardhi community.

It was realised that the criminal rehabilitation programme could also be implemented in city of Mumbai. Youngsters who come to the city in search of work, children who have grown up in the slums, children coming from broken families, illegitimate children, children who had been kidnapped when young and made to beg, all experience a lack of warmth and love in their life and turn to criminal activities. They become victims of their environment. They enter jails after committing petty crimes as children but the young adults who come out emerge as hardened criminals. Barring a few NGOs there is no effective system in place in our society which will guide these youngsters in the right manner at the appropriate time. There is only one system which can offer emotional support to such juvenile delinquents and that is the police force. Only formal approaches, that is legal methods will not be adequate. The core of this rehabilitation programme involves the use of an informal approach including emotional support, social pressure and guidance to reform the criminals. As public participation increases in police administration through the medium of Mohalla Committees, this rehabilitation can be implemented effectively.