The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cop clubs in TN

Chennai, Sept. 17: The Tamil Nadu government today announced the formation of Police Boys’ Clubs in the state to empower neglected youths.

The clubs will try to wean away youths from crime and other anti-social activities in urban areas, particularly those from the slums and poorer backgrounds, and help them join the mainstream.

The clubs, to be run by police-assisted committees at the local level in Chennai and in all district headquarters, will provide reading, recreation and vocational facilities to boys in the age group of 12 to 19, who are either school dropouts or are not looked after by their families.

Inaugurating as many as 117 clubs in the first phase at a function — which includes 64 to be fully assisted by the state government and 53 by non-government organisations — chief minister Jayalalithaa described the initiative as “police involvement in social work and reconstruction”.

The initiative assumes significance as sociologists have established the nexus between urban crimes on the one hand and poverty and idleness on the other.

Saying that these clubs were an attempt to “empower minds” of the neglected youth, Jayalalithaa said it was “better to light a candle than curse the darkness”.

After all, parents, too, were responsible for their children going wayward, Jayalalithaa pointed out, adding that the blame game had to end somewhere. Hence the state government decided to use these clubs to bring about an attitudinal change in youths, motivate them into positive action and “keep evil and crime at bay”, the chief minister added.

Each club will have a scoutmaster and an organiser to oversee its day-to-day activities and look after its assets. The clubs will also serve as a bridge between the police and the public, Jayalalithaa said, adding that occasional excursions would be organised for the clubs’ members.

The state government has sanctioned Rs 32 lakh for the 64 clubs it is directly supporting this year, apportioning Rs 50,000 for each.

While Chennai will have 25 clubs to start with, the five police commission rates of Tiruchi, Madurai, Coimbatore, Salem and Tirunelveli will each have two clubs. The other 29 districts will have one club each in the first phase at their respective headquarters.

This was a unique model for the entire country, said Wilfred Davidar, the member-secretary of the state sports development authority.

Chennai police chief K. Vijayakumar said while this additional job for the police would not detract the force from its “core competency” of control and reduction of crime and maintenance of law and order, state home secretary Munir S. Hoda termed the initiative an “investment in the youth”, who could make use of these clubs to “equip themselves to become good citizens of the country”.

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