BENGALURU: THE last few years have not been an easy ride for the state Police Department. With a spate of suicides and attempted ones by its personnel, the threat of a strike over poor pay, overwork and staff shortage, the morale of the staff was low.
In a bid to boost the confidence of the force and encourage bonding, Additional Director-General of Police (KSRP) Bhaskar Rao has embarked on a statewide cycling tour with 52 KSRP men. The purpose of the tour is to build bonding, bridge the gap between the police and public, and to maintain their fitness.
The team is almost inching towards the finishing line. The cycling expedition began from Bidar on July 12 and will end in Bengaluru on July 25. The total distance covered is 1,756 km. On July 23 the team will be heading to Mysuru from Hassan.
Rao, 53, known as a fitness buff among his fellow-mates, is spearheading the campaign. “Our main aim is to instill confidence among police personnel and paint a good picture about the department. Of course, we want to promote fitness and healthy living,” says Rao, adding, “I am the oldest here. All my fellow riders are in their 20s. I hope I’ll be able to match their enthusiasm.”
The team is covering 165-170 km on an average every day, depending on the weather conditions. “Cycling in the Western Ghats was amazing. The Shivamogga-Tirthahalli-Augumbe-Udupi-Mangaluru stretch, which is around 220 km, was the longest. We took a day and a half to complete this. We are all fully geared up and charged after this,” he says.
The team is also promoting initiatives of the government. “Throughout the trip we have been planting saplings in various localities. We will be planting around 7,000 saplings by the end of this tour. In the Hyderabad-Karnataka region and Belagavi-Maharashtra border, we went around with the ‘Kannada ulisi, Kannada Belesi’ placard. In Vijayapura, we pedalled around with a placard that asks people to build toilets and stop open defecation,” Rao said.
“Till now, throughout our journey, people have welcomed us with open arms. We have been staying at the KSRP battalions and have discussions on numerous topics every night. We visited many schools and I was surprised to know about the knowledge level of the children in rural areas. They knew who Malala Yousafzai was; they knew about Emmanuel Macron and I was blown away by their intelligence,” Rao adds.
Other cycling enthusiasts too join them. “When we were in Dharwad, 15 doctors joined us on their bicycles. In Bagalkot and Jamakhandi, several cyclists from the town pedalled along with us. Overall, it has been a wonderful experience,” Rao adds.