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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

affable Horse battallion at Work in the sands of Marina beach

Soon, we will be celebrating 68th  Indian Independence day.  India continues to be the biggest democracy – with people delivering a clear mandate in the recent elections.  There have been many martyrs who gave us our today dating back to the Indian rebellion of 1857 – soon after the British Raj formed the modern Madras Police as part of its reforms.   The history of Police would date back to 1659 when Pedda Naik was engaged by the British to Guard the town of Madraspatanam with the assistance of peons. In 1859, a new Act marked the beginning of Modern Madras Police. The Act was also the forerunner for the Police Commission set up by the Government of India in 1906. In 1919, Diwan Bahadur Parankusam Naidu was appointed as Commissioner of Police - the first Indian to occupy the post. The Chennai Metropolitan Police, a division of the Tamil Nadu Police, is the law enforcement agency for the city of Chennai, and is headed by a Commissioner of Police.  The city's traffic is managed by the Chennai City Traffic Police established in 1929. Chennai is the first city in India to introduce e-Beat system used to measure the daily routine and performance of the police personnel.

Modern police departments offer their officers a wide array of ways to cruise around town. There are cops riding in Jeeps, Innovas, Hyundai cars, Bullets, Suzuki and various other vehicles – and in Chennai city they are also astride horses.  The horse units over the World are attractive, ceremonial protection for the Head of States, used in patrols, crowd control and more. Mounted police are police who patrol on horseback (equestrians) or camelback. Globally, they serve in metropolitan areas where their day-to-day function may be ceremonial, employed in crowd control because of their mobile mass and height advantage and increasingly for crime prevention and high visibility policing roles. The added height and visibility that the horses give their riders allow officers to observe a wider area.  In the UK, mounted police are most often seen at football matches, similarly at Chepauk stadium in Chennai.  By some account, Police horses were first used in London in 1760, when Sir John Fielding, the Bow Street magistrate, developed a plan to introduce mounted units in order to deal with highwaymen. Wearing red waistcoats, blue coats and trousers, the Bow Street Horse Patrol gave protection on all major roads within 20 miles of Charing Cross.

Chennai has the famous ‘Mounted battalion’ on good looking horses – and it is a treat to watch the small group canter by. Every morning they are seen on the picturesque Marina beach and on holidays when huge crowds descend on the shore – their contribution is immense. There are some women too in the battalion.  The cantering horse with police cop on top commands respect from people and crowds heed to the warning of the mounted battalion to keep away from the waters.  They love their job and their horses too.

According to historian Mr Muthiah, the use of horses by the Police in Madras dates at least to 1800 when Walter Grant was appointed the Superintendent of Police.  Among the functions assigned to him was to organise mounted patrols in the city for which he had 30 mounted persons.  With Act of 1856, the strength rose to 80. Its uniform comprised a blue tunic, sky blue trousers, and helmets with turbans.  In the days when Police force had no motor power, Inspectors and Sergeants were provided horses.  In 1926 a Mounted branch of Madras City Police was formed with 15 horses exclusively patrolling the  city.

Their job starts early in the day from the stables housed at Pudupet, the horses look neat with hairs trimmed, embellished with saddle.  Though it might appear they are pretty casual sitting on top – they are reining in tremendous power – that of the horse.  The animals can get agitated at the slightest disturbance – caused by a recklessly driven vehicle; irritantly honked horn; fire-crackers and sometimes animals too.  Over the period of time, the rider develops special liking for the horse and perhaps so does the star animal. 

This morning at the Marina beach, opp. to PWD nearer Marina Swimming poll, witnessed a dozen of mounted police exercising their horses – it was indeed a pleasant and impressive sight to see the horses gallop in formation, nicely responding to the commands of their riders. One can also see the logo on the mount.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Aug 2o14.

Special thanks to my friend S.R. Ragunathan.

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