Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who took out a rally from Girgaum Chaupaty to Azad Maidan on Tuesday to protest against the August 11 violence in the city, received support from some police personnel.
While a constable went on stage to congratulate Mr. Thackeray on standing by the police and taking up the issue, some youths, claiming to be family members of constables, submitted a memorandum to Mr. Thackeray.
They told the media before the rally that it was time to look at the demoralising way in which the constabulary is being treated by senior officers, and the disproportionate work-pay relationship of the job.
“The violence of August 11, which targeted police personnel, demoralised the force. No one seems to be speaking about it. The Commissioner of Police used fowl words against his own force that was trying to control the rioters. The entire State has seen that behaviour,” the letter submitted to Mr. Thackeray said.
Nearly 100 family members of police personnel were present at the rally. “The position of constables is equivalent to that of a peon. There are no fixed working hours. They work for minimum 12 hours. The working hours can extend indefinitely. It is not just the constabulary; their families too are becoming demoralised,” the letter said.
The family members rued that while slum-dwellers, who encroached on government land, were being given free houses, constables who served the force for 40 years were denied decent housing.
“Society expects policemen to protect them, but it is time for society to think what it can give its policemen,” a family member, who preferred to remain anonymous, said.
Constable Pramod Tawde, who works in the wireless unit, presented Mr. Thackeray with a flower. He told reporters later that he believed that the MNS was the only party which could stand for the welfare of police personnel. “I don’t fear action against me. I have come with my resignation letter in my hands. But after looking at Raj Thackeray, I felt like there is someone I can go to, to seek support and justice.”
“The MNS is the first party which has stood in support of Mumbai Police. We do not have any union to take care of any of our interests. Senior police officials have a union, but there is no one to look after us. We are dependent on people and media to get us justice,” he said.
He said he suffered injustice at the hands of the government and the Police Commissioner after he was beaten up by jawans of the Central Industrial Security Force on August 13, 2010. He showed photographs that appeared in the media showing the injuries he sustained. He had sought a transfer to the Anti-Terrorism Squad and action against the jawans who beat him up. The police took him away and detained him.
Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik later told reporters that Mr. Tawde had been detained for interrogation.