Karnataka: Opposition leaders brew khaki storm?

Police sources suspect Opposition leaders stirring up rebels to bring down government.

Bengaluru: The impending storm of a proposed police revolt on June 4 may have begun on social media platform with a message on WhatsApp, on the plight of the constabulary and the indifference of the higher-ups including the government to their never ending misery and lack of dignity of labour.

But senior police sources have told Deccan Chronicle that the police agitation in South and North Karnataka including Bengaluru and Mysuru has gained further ground because it’s now being stoked by the Opposition, which has tried every political manouvre but has failed to dislodge the last Congress hold-out in the south.

“The BJP and JD(S) are reportedly instigating the constables in certain pockets including Kolar, Tumakuru, Bengaluru and Mysuru to go ahead with protest. The situation is delicate and can turn volatile,” said an official source.

“It all began three weeks ago with messages on whatsapp on the miserable condition of the constables in the State; long working hours without leave and lack of pay parity with their fellow constables of the neighbouring states. The messages also exhorted the highly strung constabulary to apply for en masse leave on June 4, to demand the redressal of their grievances. The messages went viral within no time as constables began threatening to go on leave, en masse on June 4.

“Initially the police top brass didn’t take cognizance of the brewing revolt but as the radicals gained ground, the Intelligence wing swung into action and started compiling the WhatsApp messages. They then launched a counter offensive strategy to placate the wounded lot,” the officer said, on condition of anonymity.

By mid-May, the senior police officers’ counter strategy saw the creation of a whatsapp group which began circulating goodwill messages to the angered constabulary to appease them. “We have tried to assuage the hurt feelings of the aggrieved group and have assured them of immediate government measures for their betterment. Officers, who should have reached out to their subordinates and listened to their grievances as a matter of routine were forced to bend over backwards and resort to this quick fix," the officer added.

Another officer on condition of anonymity said that they need to downplay the issue while at the same time, maintaining mutual trust with the constables. "Else, the next time our subordinates will go on a flash strike, without warning, leading to a complete collapse of law and order in the State," an officer said.

District SPs have put the onus on the inspectors and sub inspectors to ensure that the constables do not go on mass leave.

Article 311: Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State after an inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges.

Under ESMA the State has the power to prohibit strikes in certain employments if it is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do so in the public interest. Any person who commences a strike, which is illegal under this Act or goes or remains on, or otherwise takes part in, any such strike, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to Rs 200, or with both.

FACTOID The state government employed similar tactics in 1979 during a revolt by a section of policemen in Bengaluru and Coorg, invoking ESMA and Article 311 section (2) to dismiss the cops who rebelled.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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