"The mob had damaged several vehicles on the highway and was headed towards the Chakan police station. I knew something had to be done fast."
Earlier this week, the law and order situation in Maharashtra was extremely tense due to the large-scale Maratha agitation. However, in the industrial township of Chakan, located along the Pune-Nashik highway, one Maharashtra policeman showed remarkable alertness and presence of mind to shut down a riot in a matter of hours with the help of civilians.
On July 30, the leaders of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, who are seeking greater reservations for the Maratha community in government jobs and institutions of higher education, organised rallies at Chakan and Khed, both industrial towns along the Pune-Nashik highway in Maharashtra.
Initially, the rallies were peaceful, but by noon, a crowd of arsonists, anti-social elements, and other miscreants began damaging public property, burning state transport buses, viciously thrashing cops in uniform, pelting stones at commercial establishments, and bringing traffic on the Pune-Nashik highway to a complete standstill, reports the Pune Mirror.
Like any other riot-like situation in India, the police were heavily outnumbered. Only 150 were deployed in the area to take on more than 4000 rioters running wild. In an apparent case of poor judgement, intelligence, and organisation the police didn’t anticipate any trouble.
The situation looked exceedingly grim. That’s when 45-year-old Inspector Santosh Girigosavi, the head of the Talegaon Dabhade police station, stepped up to the plate and led efforts to shut down the riot.
“I was in civvies when I got to Chakan with my men to help Chakan police station force. The mob had damaged several vehicles on the highway and was headed towards the Chakan police station.
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I also saw quite a few locals from Chakan standing out in the open, not participating in the riots, but not hiding either. I knew something had to be done fast. The additional force that had been requested was going to take a while to arrive,” Girigosavi told Pune Mirror.
Before his stint at Talegaon Dabhade station, Girigosavi had headed the Chakan police station. As a result, he had developed an extensive network of influential residents in the town.
Speaking to them, he said that these rioters were damaging their property, bringing a bad name to the area and more importantly, things could escalate to very dangerous proportions before reinforcements arrive. It also helped that he was in civilian clothes, allowing him to move around undetected amidst the rioting crowd who had begun to beat up uniformed policemen.
“I first approached a group of locals and told them that our village was on fire. I requested them to help me as the worst was yet to come. After a little persuasion and assurance that I would stand by them, they agreed to help. They reached out to others in their area,” said Girigosavi.
Starting with an impromptu team of 15-20 influential residents, Girigosavi roped in nearly 400 people from nearby villages within the span of an hour, and they began dispersing the crowd. Upon seeing these prominent residents in the army of anti-rioters, the local rioters began to disperse, and with the arrival of an additional 400 cops, normalcy was established by 5 pm on the same day.
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“The cops were under attack. Inspector Girigosavi used his presence of mind in bringing the situation under control quickly with the help of locals. He had served in the area and had a rapport with several reputable individuals from Chakan, which he used to his advantage,” said Pune rural SP Sandip Patil.
Reports indicate that rioters were not part of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, but were local miscreants and thugs who wanted to settle scores with the authorities.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)