Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A police officer with a mission

PATNA: His fingers have been trained to press triggers of lethal weapons like light machine gun, AK-47, Insas rifle. But, when he holds a chalk
in these fingers, he is more a teacher than a gun totting cop.

Meet Upendra Prasad, a 46th batch Bihar Police Service trainee police officer, who has decided to make illiterate chowkidars literate.

Chowkidars are fourth grade police personnel who are posted at villages and work as the main channel of information between villages and local police.

Having completed his one-year training in the police training centre, Prasad was posted as station house officer (SHO)-cum-DSP (probationer) of Shergahati police station in Bihar's Gaya district as a trainee in February this year. Much to his surprise, he found that out of the 25 chowkidars posted there, 11 were illiterate and they could not even differentiate between notices they were supposed to serve to different persons.

Not only this, these police personnel had to depend on others for help for writing applications, with their only role being to put thumb impression on them.

"I felt bad for these chaps and decided to make them literate taking some time out from the gruelling work schedule," Prasad said.

A statistics postgraduate from prestigious Patna Science College as well as having a Bachelor's degree in education, this Bihar police officer decided to do it formally and started organizing special classes on the police station premises for all the illiterate chowkidars. Not only that, Prasad also provided them pencils, slates, note books and the books on basics of Hindi language.

With almost a month gone by when these special classes began, Prasad appears to be a satisfied man. For, most of his students have started recognizing letters and many of them can also write applications.

"I spent almost 50 years of my life as an illiterate person. The experience of writing an application myself is one of the most satisfying things in my life," said Rameshwar Paswan, one of the 11 chowkidars who were made to attend the classes.

Inspired by the zeal of his officer, 32-year-old Jayaram, yet another chowkidar, has now decided to ensure quality education for his children. "I will eat less, but there would be no compromise as far as studies of my children are concerned," he said.

Incidentally, Prasad does not think that his work would be over by making just 11 persons literate. Rather he plans to undertake similar work during his future postings as well.

"My career has just begun and I will use my skills to keep on spreading the light of literacy among those police personnel who could not study during childhood days for one reason or the other," said the trainee DSP.

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