SRPF Rebels in Amravati

This SRPF Group was notorious in the Maharashtra police circles.  When police were given the right to unionize, this group came out with a long list of demands.  In 1982 they took to rebellion.  The disgruntled employees boycotted work.  They assaulted middle level supervisory officers.  When the group was summoned for patrolling and security duties, the striking Jawans blocked the road with their vehicles and assaulted those employees who didn’t join their strike.  A commandant had to escape from a back door.  They abused the special IGP who had come to mediate and manhandled him in a scuffle.

The government later banned the police unions and put down the police rebellion.  The student of Sociology & Administration in me was obviously intrigued when I took charge of such a group.  Why did the Jawans resort to such a rebellion?  And who was responsible for it - the Jawans, the Commandant, the other superior officers or the administration in general?  I decided to study the familial, economic, physical, religious, professional background of the Jawans and got a 54 point form filled up by them.  My study showed that the Jawans were not lazy, rebellious, quarrelsome or mischievous.  Their physical and mental energies were not properly guided.  Their energies had no constructive outlet.  This unutilized energy turns into mob mentality. 

So to use this physical energy I undertook the project of improving and beautifying the premises that had laid deserted years.  We planted different varieties of trees by the thousands.  We dug up a hill and created a children’s park.  We constructed a water fall and fountain on top of a mountain.  We sculpted rocks to replicate the Ajanta-Verul caves.  The ‘Shreshthata Park’ at Amravati is a perfect example of how to creatively and constructively use the energies of the jawans that were otherwise wasting away. 

We put up pictures of birds copied and painted by the jawans themselves from Salim Ali’s book on birds on both sides of the road.  We put up a grand welcome arch at the entrance.  I established the Work Improvement Committee based on Quality Circles to improve teamwork, leadership & training skills as well as the personal & family life of the Jawans.  Regular weekly meetings of Quality Circles were held. Complex social problems can never be solved by lathis & bullets - the social outlook of the Jawans has to be enlarged.  I made the jawans read up essays of on the great social thinkers and reformers like Mahatma Phule, Dr.Ambedkar, Shahu, Gadge Maharaj, Mohammed Paigamber, Shankaracharya.

Police Administration: A New Direction

I implemented the ‘Police Administration: A New Direction’ project and everybody – right from the sweeper to the officers – took part.  I thus began changed the whole character of SRPF Group 9.  The Jawans of this group had held an Inspector General of Police by his collar in public.  They had snatched the revolver of a Superintendent of Police and pointed it at him.

The same Jawans were now delivering public speeches on Phule, Ambedkar, Agarkar and Shahu Maharaj.  Some of these lathi-weilding Jawans made such effective speeches that they could put any professor to shame.  SRPF Jawans had been dissatisfied due to personal problems like pay, housing, overwork etc.  When they studied Phule, Ambedkar & Mahatma Gandhi, they realized that there were other sections of society much worse off.  Their own lot was comparatively much better.

The jawans thought that if the great men had sacrificed their lives for these weaker sections then the least they could do was do their jobs sincerely!  And once their awareness about other religions increased, the misunderstandings especially between the Hindus and the Muslims were reduced.  These were the same lazy, procrastinating and ‘all brawn and no brain’ jawans who had been notorious for ruthlessly suppressing adivasi and labour agitations by mercilessly beating them up. 

Even I could hardly believe the sea of change I saw in them!