In a move rarely witnessed anywhere in the country and certainly not in the southern state, hundreds of wives of the Andhra Pradesh Special Police (APSP) personnel gathered at 11 places across the state on Sunday to protest against their husbands’ poor working conditions, including frequent denial of leave.
The APSP, numbering about 15,000 of the state’s total police force of 90,000 personnel, has fully armed battalions that are used to control riots, tackle serious law and order problems and battle Maoists.
The protest which started at the APSP battalion at Kondapur on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Saturday spread to 11 battalions in various parts of the state on Sunday.
The trigger for the agitation was the recent death of APSP constable Phani Kumar after he fell ill and was denied leave while on an assignment in a forest in East Godavari district.
The women shouted slogans and picketed in front of the gates of battalion headquarters, complaining that their husbands were overworked and denied leave for months together.
They also alleged that there was rampant corruption in the force and that seniors were taking bribes to sanction leave.
Tension prevailed at the APSP’s eighth battalion at Kondapur in the Hyderabad municipality when angry protestors tried to attack the force’s inspector general AB Venkateshwar Rao. They threw slippers and shoes towards Rao, demanding withdrawal of a system – called the ABC system — introduced by him under which constables were required to work for 40 days in remote areas outside their range.
Additional DGP in charge of the APSP, Gautam Sawang, later announced that the ABC system was being scrapped. Instead, the old system of keeping personnel on duty for 21 days outside their battalion range and then giving them leave for three days would be restored.
Director General of Police V Dinesh Reddy has told Sawang to conduct an enquiry and submit a report.