Bring back the Anti-Rowdy Squad
Columns, In Black & White, Top Stories

Bring back the Anti-Rowdy Squad

December 9, 2023

Recently, a youth assaulted the MCC Revenue Inspector in his office because the Inspector had told him not to smoke on the office premises. A few weeks earlier, there was a report that three youths assaulted a middle-aged man for honking at them as they entered a one-way street.

A few weeks ago, I witnessed an accident near Crawford Hall where two youngsters came out of nowhere and rammed into a car that was slowly being driven around the circle by an elderly man.

After the accident, the boys limped up to the old man and screamed, “You blind old fellow, didn’t you see I was coming at high speed? Don’t you know you have to brake?” The youngster was so entitled that he felt all traffic should brake when he was riding fast. What audacity!

A fellow commuter told the boys it was their mistake to speed like that. The boys threatened him and gave him a dirty lashing in Kannada, saying, “Shut your ass and get out.” Most of us left because the boys looked too menacing.

Such incidents of young thugs abrasively threatening and beating up people have been happening more often these days and will increase as the city grows.

Mysuru Police have done a splendid job investigating serious crimes, but they have failed to tackle ‘minor assault’ cases. It is getting hard to tackle such cases because the Police treat them as a ‘skirmish’ or just an ‘outburst,’ so don’t file a complaint; just let the thugs go with a warning.

The other reason is that victims don’t file complaints as they will be stuck in the Police Station for a whole day and maybe even for a few days.

Picture shows City Top Cop warning rowdy-sheeters not to indulge in any anti-social activities. (File photos dated Dec. 13, 2022)

There are another two factors which have contributed to the increase in the brutish attitude of youngsters. First, the political patronage given to ‘Vedikes’ (platforms)  and ‘Abhimanigala Sanghas’ means there is political pressure on the Police not to take action against youths who are members of such associations.

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The second issue is — law-keepers felicitated by law-breakers. Every time a new Police Officer comes to the city and takes charge, the first people to welcome him with a bouquet of flowers are the guys most likely to break the law.

Worse, these days, one sees Police Officers in bars and restaurants sitting and dining with people of questionable repute. This does not bode well for the Police force. How can the public get confidence in the Police when they are sitting and enjoying liquor and laughter with the very people the ordinary citizen wants to file a complaint against?

As cases of minor assault increase, what are we citizens to do? Is it time we, too, like the cops, start wearing body cams? That way, even if we can’t get justice, we can at least put up the video on social media and warn people of the self-styled rowdies.

 Should we common citizens carry pepper spray or chilli powder so we can defend ourselves when assaulted by some young thug who is high on booze and ego?

It may be time to bring back the Anti-Rowdy Squad, but a lite-version that patrols heavily in the city limits.

In the early 1990s, rowdies became a menace as the Police turned a blind eye. Then, in 1993, two on-duty Constables were attacked near Gayathri Talkies on Chamaraja Double Road.

Immediately, the then City Police Commissioner H.R. Kasturirangan set up an ‘Anti-Rowdy Squad’ headed by Inspector K.S. Thammaiah. Soon, the cleansing began with rowdy-sheeter Lakshman, aka ‘Chimpanzee’, being killed in an encounter when he tried to ‘escape’ from Police custody in the old Santhepet area.

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ARS, as we journalists called the Squad, had struck fear in the hearts of rowdies and, more importantly, aspiring rowdies. In a few years, rowdies completely mellowed down, and the Anti-Rowdy Squad was moved into the City Crime Branch, where it remains dormant. Can City Police Commissioner Ramesh Banoth revive it?

After all, it was Commissioner Banoth, who dragged a few powerful politicians who were rowdy-sheeters to the Police Station for a roll call last year. They had earlier refused.

Such acts by the Police give the public confidence. Mysuru citizens would appreciate it if the Commissioner could create an ‘Ultra-Lite – Anti-Rowdy Squad’ with a hotline number so senior citizens and ordinary citizens don’t fear this new wave of self-styled young dons.

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