Journalist Kumar Kadam and Friend
Duration: 01:23:01; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 23.714; Saturation: 0.100; Lightness: 0.225; Volume: 0.142; Cuts per Minute: 0.120; Words per Minute: 20.776
Summary: Journalist Kumar Kadam talks about the August 1982 strike by the police constables of Bombay and his role in the same. He is joined in by his friend Ajay Vaidya who also talks about the strike.
kk - I am born in Mumbai and completed schooling in Mumbai as well. I was staying at Parel- famously known as mill workers district, I grew up in Parel only. Despite my father being the Mill Master (Kind of petty officer) I spent my childhood with mill workers, their families and naturally developed an inclination towards the issues of workers. I also got to witness the struggles faced by them in daily life. This exposure has inspired me till now to be a part of movements based on workers isues. It came to me quite naturally and so far I have always been an integral part of workers movements.
Q - When did you start as a journalist ?
KK - I started off as a journalist towards the end of my formal education. The essays I used to write in school were often regarded as exemplary and quite often read out for other students. The germ for writing and a certain style was always there. Initially I wanted to work with political parties but soon realized that it would require working on someone elses terms.( "Muze kisi na kisi ke samne zukna padata tha) Whereas journalism could have offered me an opprtunity to voice peoples concern and resolve their issues directly.
Q- How did you start initially ?
KK - I started with an issue. In 1971, school started giving admissions against donations and my nephew was denied admission when he did not pay the donation. I was yet to complete my education but I studied the issue ( of admissions against donations) thoroughly and voiced my my very first article in ( noted marathi daily) 'Loksatta'
Q - Would you please tell us now about the police strike of 1982 ?
KK - If you visit any police station (in Maharashtra) - be it Mumbai or outside- you will find a few common surnames... Kadam, Rane, Sawant, Patil these are the common names. Every police station would have atleast a single person ( bearing one of the common names). I would rather say the police station is incomplete without presence of atleast someone with these names.
Worli Police quarters
kk- ( I being a 'Kadam') Many of my relatives were policemen. I got to see the life of policemen pretty closely. My uncle was a police constable and was staying at police quarters in Worli... the tin roof quarters. The roof had holes. The conversations in next house were easily heard by others. The policemen (..in quarters) were living in a sorry state and I got to stay with them (in the quarters) and got to experience first hand the hardships faced by policemen/ lower rank policemen in daily life.
( Given my experinces) I am very sympathetic to police. The common man has a different perception of police... as if he would torture them. But my lookout towards police is very different.
(I think) No body joins the police department willingly. The situation forces most of them to join the police. Children of policemen- many a times- take up this job to obtain an assured housing (in quarters.)
A few policemen think that their son should join as 'Faujdar' ( Police Inspector / Ranked Officer)... a few thought like this but most of them have joined as dire situation forced them to. They are toilers , hard-workers.
Police also face discrimination and injustice but being a part of a disciplined force (that is supposed to maintain discipline) they can not raise voices against it. I always felt that someone needs to do something effectively ( in raising voice against unfair treatment / injustice faced by policemen.)
It so happened incidentally that I was the president of 'Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh' ( Marathi Journalists Association in Mumbai)...in 1982. At the same time some of the policemen had come together to form a union...They used to gather at Azad Maidan police Station that is opposite 'Mumbai marathi Patrakar Sangh'.
They used to discuss the issues. I had one acquaintance amongst them. They used to come to meet me in 'Patrakar Sangh' and used to say that they wanted to form a union.
( One fine day..) I supported their idea of forming a union and (without much efforts) got associated with them...started discussing the actions to be taken. Thus the police Union was formed.
At the same time, I became the reason for formation of one more organization. I was also a part of efforts attempted at forming 'Union of the Private Security Guards'.
Barrister Antulay- who had become the Chief Minister then- was a patient listener and was quick at taking decisions. He recognized the 'Union of Police' and formed a (welfare) board for security guards on the lines of Board for Headloaders ( Mathadi Workers). I have been an important part of these developments.
When police started some agitations and were beyond anyones control - especially at Naigaon Headquarters where police were with arms and didn't let in even the Deputy Commissioner Mr. Pasaricha and when atmosphere was charged- sources told the government that Kumar Kadam can pacify the agaitating police.
After that , Bapusaheb Chaughule- the then secretary of home department- rang me up at 4 in the morning...there were no mobiles then, had landlines and asked me come there ( Police Commissioner Office) in the morning. I reached the Police Commissioners Office but on the term that I would not step in the chamber of Police Commissioner Mr.Kasabekar who had tortured the policemen like anything.
( According to my terms of intervention) Bapusaheb Chaughule met me in the corridors of commissioners office. I told police that I was going to meet Antulay ( the then CM) with policemens demands ...( So I did and..) Antulay accepted most of the demands.
No one before him did nor after him has done what Antulay has done for police so far.
Q - What was the situation then that led to policemen opposing the celebrations of Independence Day ?
KK- Police had many demands , to start with. Police did not have fixed duty hours , don't have even today. Don't have weekly offs. Most of them used to work as orderlies.
police strike orderly
You must be knowing that as many as 8 policemen work in the houses of IPS officers at a time. To take their ( officers) children to school , to wash their clothes... Officers do not have domestic servants but have orderlies (to do the work. )
Thus there is a lot of exploitation. The place where today MLA's society stands in Worli, earlier was the staff quarters of the constables. Instead of construction houses for the constables, MLA's from all political parties came together to form co-operative housing societies there. Injustice was done to the police constables.
The government supported the MLA's instead of the police. Those who were supposed to represent the cause of the constables, turned against against them. So there was discontent among the police ranks and many questions arose at the same time.
I- So how did the Andolan proceed, what were the preparations involved.
A- So the police ranks decided that on the 15th of August (1982) they will all wear black badges. I oppesed this, because it is a event of national significance and of our constitution and independence struggle. Many people have sacrificed for it. This will be a disrespect to them. So they decided that after the parade ends, they will wear black ribbons.
police strike badges
I tried a lot that they do not do this. I tried to bring in Murli Deora, who was then the Mumbai Pradesh Congress President, to have talk with CM Babasaheb Bhonsle. Till 2 a.m. in the night, Babasaheb Bhonsle did not give any response. On the night of the 14th. Then Murli Deora told me that nothing is coming out of it, and I should go home. Otherwise the next day, the police protest would not have taken place (if CM had agreed to talk).
The then Police Commisioner and other police officers were feeding the wrong information to the CM and against the constables. They made a prestige issue out of it.
Q- So this happened on the 15th, what about the 16th, 17th...
A- What happened was that as all this was going on, the strike of the mill workers was ongoing. On the one hand the state was trying to break that strike, on the other hand, the police was unhappy. In this context, the state used the strike of the mill workers to pin down the police.
A- On the 17th of August, in all stations in the city, all the constables and officers below the rank of Assistant Police Inspector, were asked to go home. All the police stations were vacated. And the CRPF and BSF forces were called in.
On the 16th night, I went to the Paltan Road police station, now called Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Road police station, along with other reporters. Ashok Chavan, grandson of Yashwantrao Chavan, was with me. Only the CRPF and BSF were at the station. I asked the police officers, why have all the constables been sent home? They told me that they want to give some rest to the constables, given the mill workers strike. And we are going to arrest Datta Samant. And to avoid any unrest, we have called in CRPF. The constables will be joining back in the morning.
I went home. At 4:30 a.m. a constable named Gaikwad came to my house. He knocked my door, I asked who is it. He said, police. He said, I was on duty at the lockup at Crawford Market police headquarters.
The president of the MRPKS (Maharastra Rajya Police Karamchari Sangathna) S.D. Mohite, and Shewale, who was actually not caught at that time, and others had been arrested and brought to the lockup. The charge had been taken over by the CRPF. He had brought a letter, that so many of us have been arrested. I asked him, how did you manage to come? He said, he left his duty and came to give this, now ill be going back.
The poor fellow also got arrested when he went back. We approached Barrister Bhonsle.
Q- What were the effects in the city?
A- The effects were very much like a bandh.
Ajay Vaidya - The police .. your main subject. Was not the fault of the police ranks. There was a lot of injustice on them, they had to raise their voice.