karnataka police
Police association leader in Karnataka was arrested for planning a statewide protest on June 4. Picture: Policemen stand guard outside a temple in Mumbai July 30, 2008.Reuters

The Karnataka Police on Thursday arrested the head of the state police association, Shashidhar Venugopal, for planning a statewide protest on Saturday (June 4) over the alleged poor working conditions at work, harassment by senior officials and low payment.

Venugopal, the founder and president of the Akhila Karnataka Police Mahasangha, was picked up from his house in Yelahanka and produced before a court that sent him to 15-day judicial custody.

"A case has been registered at Yelahanka New Town police station and Karnataka police association president Shahidhar has been arrested and presented before local court which remanded him to judicial custody till June 16," Indo-Asian News Service quoted Bengaluru Police Commissioner NS Megharikh as saying.

According to Asianet Newsable, Shashidhar's wife and son said at least 30 policemen came to their house around 12:30 a.m. to arrest him. The policemen reportedly seized Shashidhar's computer, laptops, mobile phones and some documents pertaining to the mass leave organised on Saturday.

"My husband was working in his room. The rest of us were asleep. We woke up when we heard our dog barking loudly. We peeped out of the window and found policemen surrounding our house," Asianet quoted Shashidhar's wife Poornima as saying.

"Within a few seconds, we saw all the policemen jumping inside the compound. They were repeatedly pressing calling bell. When we opened the door, they took my husband along with them. We asked them, 'Where are you taking him?' but they didn't reply," she said.

The protest

As many as 60,000 policement, as well as members of the Akhila Karnataka Police Mahasangha, planned to go on mass leave on June 4 against "harassment" at the workplace. 

"There are around 85,000 policemen in the state. In this, 65,000 staff is constabulary, which is the most harassed section. Forget decent salary, they are not even able to spend time with their families. They don't get leaves even during emergency situations. They have to face suspension in the name of 'disciplinary action' even for small issues," Shashidhar had told Deccan Chronicle.

"Their working condition is pathetic as they have to work more than 15 hours at a stretch without basic amenities. This is nothing but gross violation of human rights. Despite repeated requests for the last 25-30 years, governments have not done anything to sort out the issue and even courts did not rule in favour of policemen. Thus, they have reached the limit and are ready to give a clear message to the government this time," he said.

Director General of Police (DGP) Omprakash had warned the policemen against holding the strike and going on mass leave. The Karnataka government has later invoked the Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) to ensure proper law-and-order situation in the state.