Republic day in India has always been celebrated with great pomp and show. People show tremendous energy, zeal and vigor while remembering the selfless sacrifices made by our martyrs during the struggle for independence. But naxal/ maoist affected areas (infamously known as the Red Corridor) are different. It hardly witnesses any Republic day activity – there is little/ no jubilation at sites and symbols of national sovereignty.
People either don't know Republic ideals or fear too much of Naxals present around them. They know, any participation in the affairs of the State, will be seen as inimical to Naxals, who more than often respond with violence and repression. People are constantly kept in dark, with continuous portrayal of police as an instrument of brutality. Due to mis-information campaigns, tender impressionable minds get brain-washed, and they join the ranks of Naxals.
In such situation, he IPS Sathish Kumar was posted as ASP Chinthapalli, Andhra Pradesh. He soon realized that something needs to be done to break this false narrative painted by Naxals for vested interests. To break it, he decided to inter-mingle with the locals.
With the Republic day approaching last year, he came up with a creative idea. He, along with his team, intensively toured Maoist affected area and convinced people to send their children in a bus trip. Though the prevailing situation led to lukewarm response, but was good enough to make a change.
The trip took around 50 students to Vishakhapatnam to witness the glorious Republic day. The visit was followed by a visit to zoo where for the first time they saw ferocious animals. Subsequently, they visited the aircraft museum, fishing harbour and traffic control unit at the airport.
The trip not only opened them to modern developments, but also led to rich cultural interaction. They also performed the traditional dance which opened up the urban civilization to the tribal culture.
Back in Chinthapalli, the young ASP Sathish increased interaction with the locals. He now wore more of civil dress instead of police uniform. Once the locals started welcoming him, he started a series of initiatives to win their heart and minds. The first initiative was a job fair, which saw around 60 people getting jobs in various fields including catering, mechanics, sales, mansion etc. When the board exams approached, he organized free coaching classes for better results of the students.
He soon came to know about RTO related problem of the villagers. They had to travel around 120 km to reach RTO office for license related works. With proper co-ordination, he brought RTO officers to their doorsteps. His creative mind didn't stop here and he organized a police Mela where 600 students of the Maoist affected area participated and played volleyball and shared food. He later on, organized an eye camp as well.
He, under the able guidance and leadership of his SP, purchased a tractor which worked as 'Giri Krishak Mitra' (friend of mountain farmers). They could borrow the tractor as per need at a much lower than market price. The initiative led to higher agricultural production, which resulted in fostering of better ties with the civilians.
Since the last republic day to this, his series of small steps have made a huge difference. Locals who could reap benefits of his initiatives, now revere police and place higher degree of pride in the celebration of the Republic day.
From a Tamil land to one of 'them' in the interiors of Andhra, he, Sathish IPS, has came a long way but it's not the end. Down the years, when the villagers will think of a police friend, he and his efforts will surely be remembered.
For his outstanding contribution in the field of social work, he received the prestigious SKOCH award last year. He continues to toil for betterment of the lives of people. Jai hind!