Hyderabad,Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr: Telangana is set to implement, voluntarily, 33% reservation in the state police force. The decision will be notified in a few days’ time, according to highly placed sources in the government. The state government is recruiting 7,000 personnel, out of which 33%, 2100, would be women.
The initiative for the move came from the higher echelons of the police, and Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhara Rao gave the nod without much ado. It was decided that instead of creating a few all-women police stations, which would be mere tokens, it would be better to have women in all the police stations across the state.
The 33% principle would apply to staffing pattern in all the police stations. It is being argued that the presence of women in all the police stations would not only result in the empowerment of the women in the force, but it would also encourage women to go to the police stations to register their complaints.
It was also found that the all-women police stations did not work well as they were intended to. One of the surprising discoveries was that the levels of corruption in the all-women police stations was high.
The modernisation of the police seems to be one of the things that is happening at a brisk pace in the little-more-than-a-year-old state. Chief Minister Rao seems to be keenly aware that unless the law-and-order situation is under control, the state, especially Hyderabad, would not become the investment destination that he wants it to be. That is why, he willing to acceded to any demand that would modernise the police system and improve its functioning.
One of the consequences of this pro-active attitude of the Chief Minister has been that the city police had placed an order for 3000 patrol cars, and every police station in the state would have a modern patrol car to replace the rickety jeeps of old.
According to sources, the two main potential challenges in the new state—Naxalism and Hindu-Muslim tensions or communalism—seem to have been sorted out each in their own way.
Thanks to the success of the Greyhounds—the special anti-Naxal force in the undivided Andhra Pradesh—the Naxalites had been pushed from the hotspots in the state like Warangal and Karimnagar. The problem that Telangana police face with regard to Naxalism is to guard the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border. There are incidents where the Telangana police are engaged in skirmishes from the Naxalites based in the Bastar area, across the state border. It is now being asserted that there is a Naxal threat from within the state.
As to Hindu-Muslim tensions, the sporadic riots that used to break out in the old city of Hyderabad, where 42% of city’s population (all of them Muslims) stay, are now a thing of the past. It is considered the largest urban concentration of Muslims in the whole country.
The police admit that this is not due to the miracle of better policing but due to the widening of roads in the old city. The municipal authorities had demolished many of the ramshackle frontages housing old shops. There is an improved road connection in the old city which stretches into the outskirt of Falaknuma, with its famous palace now turned into a heritage hotel by the Tatas. It has become a huge attraction for the Hyderabadis as well as tourists.
Now the owners of the buildings have rebuilt their frontages and turned them into bigger shopping complexes. Due to the flow of remittances from the Gulf countries, many in the old city have gotten into lucrative businesses. People now have economic stakes and do not want a riot to disrupt their lives. It is also due to the improved economic conditions that the children from the families in the old city are going to better schools located across River Musi.
The sources say that the police have adopted a nuanced approach to Muslim youth being attracted to jihadi organisations like the Islamic State (IS). While surveillance has been stepped up it is not overtly intrusive. Arrests based on mere suspicion are being avoided and the tendency to file chargesheets has been reined in. Instead, the police call in the family and friends of the youth to apprise them of the issue.
The city police have apparently learned bitter lessons from the arrest of 19 Muslim youth in connection with the Mecca Masjid blasts of 2007. It turned out that all the 19 were innocent, and a judicial commission of inquiry came down heavily against police excess. The police say that it was the pressure from political authorities to nail the culprits quickly that led mistakes like framing the innocent. They are now disinclined to rush into nailing culprits and filing cases.