29th May 2018, was perhaps the happiest day in the lives of the 400-odd tribals settled in the remote hamlet of Ayidhu Donala, 50 km away from Hyderabad in the Narayanpur mandal of Yadadri-Bhuvangiri district of Telangana.
For the first time after 70 years of independence, the villagers saw a state transport bus ply on its newly-built six km motorable road!
All thanks to the Rachakonda Commissionerate and its dedicated police officials who shelled money from their own pockets to connect this remote tribal hamlet to mainstream society.
For over seven decades, the tribals, including school-going students, pregnant ladies, as well as the elderly used to walk for at least one hour to board a bus from Kadel Bavi thanda, six km away from their hamlet.
This distance even though an hour, could cost lives. When medical facilities were needed for snake bites or sick or pregnant women were to be rushed to the hospital, the villagers would trudge on the rugged, uneven and dusty terrain, carrying patients on cots or in bullock carts to nearby hospitals,
But all their troubles evaporated into thin air, after the Commissionerate led by Police Commissioner, Mahesh M Bhagwat, decided to build a brand new motorable road under the department’s ‘Rakshakabata’ initiative.
On 29th May, this road connecting Kadila Bavi thanda to Ayudhu Donala thanda was inaugurated by the Minister for Energy, Jagadadishwar Reddy, who also flagged off the first RTC Bus for the village.
Are you wondering why the police decided to help this particular hamlet? The roots go back to history.
Till 2005, this area of the Rachakonda gram panchayat under the Narayanpur mandal was rife with Naxalite activities. IPS Bhagwat was the Superintendent of Police of Nalgonda District in 2005-06, and had jurisdiction over this area. By using stern action against those indulging in violence, he won the hearts of the people. He is also credited with freeing the area of the Naxal menace through people-friendly policing programmes ensuring surrender and rehabilitation of the underground Naxalite cadres into the mainstream.
On 1st July 2016, after taking charge of the Rachakonda Commissionerate, CP Mahesh Bhagwat initiated many citizen-friendly police initiatives to promote development in the region
The Commissionerate was established in 2016, got its name from the 13th century Rachakonda Fort at the foothills of which these four tribal hamlets are located. So it was a natural choice for the authorities to choose these as accelerators for growth under its community policing initiative.
In February 2017, the police department held a mega-health camp for these hamlets that fall under the Rachakonda village. It was at the time that IPS Bhagwat along with his colleagues and higher-ups realised that their phones were out of coverage area. After interacting with the locals, they were informed about the lack of connectivity in the hamlet.
Moved by their struggle, Police Commissioner Bhagwat coordinated with BSNL and acquired all the necessary permissions from the Forest Department to lay an optical fibre cable to the village. It was only a matter of time until the telecom operator erected a tower near the village in January 2018.
It was also at this time that sarpanch Sagar spoke to the Police Commissioner about the daunting difficulties the tribals in Ayidhu Donala thanda had to face due to lack of motorable road and state transport facilities. Within no time, the top cop mobilised his officers to repair the road and got the help of village volunteers and a local contractor.
Spending over five lakhs from their community policing fund and some shramdaan from the villagers, the officers transformed the hard dirt area into a motorable road.
Speaking to The Better India, IPS Bhagwat said,
“When the road was inaugurated on Tuesday, the entire village, regardless of age and gender turned out and rejoiced. The tribal women of the Lambada community donned their traditional attire, sang and danced. The happiness on their faces is what keeps us going. It was priceless how the entire village gathered around to thank us. They kept telling us how police intervention in the last two years had solved the problems they had been facing for decades.”
With the TSRTC bus connectivity to the remote hamlet, the corporation will operate two services a day, in the mornings and the evenings, from Ibrahimpatnam depot via Kadel Bavi Thanda. The first bus will reach the thanda by 9 a.m., and the last one will leave it by 5 p.m.
The Telangana cop and his team have initiated many programmes to promote development in the area.
On January 1, 2018, they distributed over 2,000 notebooks sourced from the general public to over 400 children.
The team also sent its officers to the hamlets to help the youth enrol for its pre-police recruitment training. From training the individuals to arranging pick and drop service, the officials did it all!
It is indeed the dedication of the men in uniforms that reinstates our faith in the power of government and public servants to transform lives on the ground. Like someone once said, “Some policemen are truly social workers in uniform, after all!”
If this story inspired you, get in touch with IPS Mahesh Bhagwat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)