Dr Thomas (Special Correspondent)
Another chapter in Bangalore’s long-drawn history of violence, unrest,and the spread of unsavory elements is the rise of rowdies or thugs.
Rowdies,who are rogue individuals or gang members,have a record of causing unrest in the city with their connections and violent tendencies.
From minor incidents to major crimes,such as money laundering and physical harassment, the terror of rowdies in Bangalore spreads far and wide,with tales even crossing state boundaries.
However,rowdy sheeters have begun operating under a different mask in the past couple of years.
Instead of going on the offense directly, thugs have taken a different route to the same destination,social activist organizations.
According to police logs and claims,almost one-third of rowdies claim to have mended their ways by joining social organizations, but it is merely a cover-up.
Being in social organizations comes with power, recognition,and credibility.Since social activism is synonymous with social welfare and well-being, working with a social party is a sign of social work and performing social duties.
In the guise of turning over a new leaf by performing social work and becoming RTI activists,rowdies take official organizational posts said organizations are controlled by or associated with religious, cultural, and linguistic parties with high connections, politicians, people related to medical and engineering universities, and even civil case administrators.
Additionally, many rowdies have also infiltrated or set up women-focused organizations, putting women in their families in charge.
According to police sources,approximately 2,700 thugs out of around 9,000 joined social organizations as a personal reformation.
However, in reality, this move was only a push to further accelerate their ulterior, anti-social motives.
In Bangalore, thugs enter random social activism groups to set up or start fake businesses.Even though their work falls under various categories, one of the most prominent businesses is the financing business.
They act as loan sharks and lend loans to up-and-coming vendors or small businesses to boost their companies.Loaning money puts rowdies higher on the social chain, economically speaking,than people from backward social classes.
Upon failing to pay their debts back, loaners resort to harassing vendors.Loans must be paid back timely with interest, failing which, social organizations send thugs recruited with them to harass vendors and businesses,regardless of age, class, or gender.
Young or senior citizens, or men or women, rowdies claim to be RTI activists to avoid backlash or dodge punishments. In addition, thugs file RTI reports and cases against police officers, should they meddle, putting their lives and jobs in jeopardy.
Even though rowdies have been operating with social organizations and taking undue advantage of their status for years, the first noticeable case dates back to 2017.
In 2017,an individual, who went through a thug to tabloid journalist to social organization worker pipeline, was a frequent name in police charge sheets.He had a connection with the in-house corruption incident in Lokayukta.Per the charge sheet, the accused reported working and dealing with him to transfer one of Lokayukta’s top police officers.
Furthermore,as a founder of a Kannada organization,police officers extracted unlicensed fire weapons from his house, placing him under constant scrutiny.
Additionally, his logs display his connection to an office bearer, who was arrested on the grounds of being associated with a threat-to-murder case.
A police commissioner even gave a firm stance on not letting any rowdy or thug walk away scot-free, regardless of their business or the social organization they work with.
In his statement, this commissioner promised to treat reports and charges against rowdies with the same legalities and system used to solve other cases.
The rowdy to ‘social activist’ pipeline unravels systematically.Thugs or their associates fill an RTI form to understand the aspects of government operations in a particular field or locality.
After finding gaps and loopholes in the application, they establish contact with associated officials and threaten them to help them execute their plan.
Usually,rowdies hold misdemeanor charges as leverage or blackmail to coerce the officials into siding with them—often extorting money from the official in the process.
The official ends up becoming the rowdy’s accomplice and part of his false business and network.
The thugs receive inside information regarding government projects,confidential files,and resources from the officials, helping them establish their financial business.
Social organizations offer rowdy-sheeters a safety blanket,allowing them to bask in their reign of terror,attack and harass people unprompted and unprovoked,trap socially and economically disadvantaged sections in a vicious cycle of debts, and avoid punishments.
The earlier case is a singular example of thousands of existing incidents, with new reports filed daily.
In blatant abuse and misuse of power, rowdies twist the trust,reliability, and credibility that comes with social organizations to set up fake businesses and lure unsuspecting people.
They not only seize properties in the name of running social organizations,reducing the authenticity of social activism,but also demand large sums of money in exchange for assistance and support.