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Fighting social evils: Jhabua police’s tribal outreach breaking barriers in Madhya Pradesh

To fight social evils to curb crimes, Jhabua police are holding interactive meetings in villages and schools

india Updated: Jun 23, 2017 19:46 IST
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Jhabua,Tribal outreach,Madhya Pradesh
Police in Jhabua exhort girl students to take a pledge to continue their studies till the age of 18. (HT Photo )

Jhabua superintendent of police Mahesh Jain recently received an unusual SMS from a young tribal girl, Neha Damor.

She urged him to visit her village Torniya in the district’s Meghnagar tehsil to explain to the villagers ill effects of social evils besetting the village such as alcoholism, early marriage of girls, school dropouts and dowry.

Responding to Neha’s request, Jain visited Torniya in the second week of June to become the first SP to visit the remote village in 70 years. There he exhorted villagers to fight social evils and told them how it would benefit them.

Such an SMS to a police officer and the prompt and positive response from the SP would have been unthinkable even a year ago in the district where police and local populace viewed each other with suspicion.

Jhabua is a backward tribal district in Western Madhya Pradesh around 350 km from Bhopal.

Jain’s visit to Torniya, however, was not a one-off case. As part of a sustained campaign being run by the Jhabua police in villages and schools for the past six months to fight social evils to curb crimes, such interactions are often taking place in the district.

“It’s a new role for the police here, but we realised that many of the crimes that take place are actually the fallout of these social evils,” Jain pointed out.

“Many murders were committed in drunken rages in this tribal area. The dowry is forcing locals to migrate to other places seeking jobs to accumulate the amount. So we have decided to take up these social issues, though it is not exactly our job,” he said.

The initiative has broken barriers between the police and tribals. “More and more villages want us to come and meet villagers and talk to them. I feel it is a positive development,” Jain added.

In the last few months, Jhabua police organised such meetings, christened as ‘Khatla baithak’ (wooden-cot meet), in over two dozen villages.

The proceedings are simple. The villagers squat in a semi circle in an open space as SP Jain tells them about the social evils and how it affects their lives.

Police are also running a parallel programme in government schools, wherein they exhort girl students to take a pledge to continue their studies till the age of 18.

A catchy slogan –Kam se kum 18 varsh ki umra tak pardhna aur parhana hai, jeevan sukhad banana hai—has been coined to spread the message against child marriage.

“The SP came and told us why we should continue studying and not marry before 18. I am convinced. I will not marry before 18,” Says Vimla Damor, a student of Jhabua Girls H S School.

The feedbacks from 20 schools covered so far is similarly encouraging.

Impressed by the success of the campaign, the IG Indore Zone Ajay Sharma said they were now planning to replicate this initiative in other tribal dominated districts of the state.

The initiative also received a thumps up from social workers of the area.

Benedict Damor of the Adivasi Shikshan Seva Kendra says, “It’s a good initiative. People are now not so apprehensive about police. But whether they follow the advice remains to be seen.”

(With inputs from C B Singh)

First Published: Jun 23, 2017 19:46 IST