Collectors, police officials share their experiences and measures taken to solve the problem

The conference of Collectors and Superintendents of Police discussed in detail the causes leading to caste and communal conflicts and discussed the ways to prevent them in future.

A government agenda note prepared for the occasion spoke of the widespread use of mobile phones and influence of television and the web in general, and social networking sites in particular, in aggravating incidents and increasing their spread whenever incidents happened or rumours went around. The government asked the district administration to keep a close watch on activities of communal organisations and activate peace committees to maintain peace, according to official sources.

Right on top of the agenda for discussion was caste-related conflict, especially in southern districts where there was large-scale movement of people for functions marking the birth/death anniversaries of leaders, necessitating huge deployment of police force.

As functions of this nature have mushroomed over the years, it was noted that clashes and disturbances occurred en route, due to the unruly behaviour of volunteers. Display of banners and writings added to the tension, leading to three major incidents this year. Sporadic incidents of desecration or damage caused to statues of caste leaders also added to the tension in various places. The conflicts between two communities in Dharmapuri and Cuddalore districts due to inter-caste marriages were also discussed, the sources said.

The conference also discussed the communal situation in districts, particularly Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Tirupur, Madurai and Chennai. It was noted that nine outfits, including the banned Al-Umma and SIMI, had been active over the years.

The Collectors, police commissioners and superintendents of police of these districts where communal incidents were reported, shared their experiences and observations and described the measures taken to control the problem. “We basically detailed how we handled the situation as early as possible whenever there was a slight provocation by some group by acting swiftly and staying neutral to preserve communal harmony,” said a Collector.

The government also directed senior officers to immediately intervene and nip any kind of communal conflict in the bud. The Collectors, CoPs and SPs were asked to keep a watch on inflammatory speeches and initiate appropriate criminal action, detain troublemakers under the National Security Act, scotch rumours spread by word of mouth as well as text messages and social networking sites.

Internal security, coastal security and left-wing extremism are among the 18 topics that will be discussed at the conference of Collectors on Tuesday and of police officers on Wednesday, the sources said.