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CriminalTribes


Booth-Tucker, writing in his book: Muktifauj, Forty Years with The Salvation Army in India and Ceylon, refers to ‘ … the vast network or … conspiracy of crime which overspreads the whole country in the form of Criminal Tribes whose whole and sole occupation consists in the commission of crime, from the proceeds of which they not only support themselves, but bribe the subordinate representatives of law and order to grant them a certain amount of toleration and immunity from punishment.’

A special act had been passed, but its provisions were not enforced. Local district officials attempted reform programmes, only to see them stopped when they transferred. Police officials were handicapped by the lucrative nature of the crime. Government officials were prevented from including religion in reform. No attention had been paid to reform of the wives of criminals.

Booth Tucker, with his background in civil administration, had encountered the problem. He had suggested an annual conference of those involved.

In 1908, Booth-Tucker was conducting a congress at Bareilly. In the congregation was Mr Tweedy, Commissioner of Rohilkhand and a member of the Government of United Provinces. He proposed that the Army should become involved in the reform programme. The Governor approved, and the Army began by taking charge of 300 Doms in Gorakhpur.

By 1922 there were settlements in many parts of the country:
United Provinces: Gorakhpur, Moradabad, Kanth, Bareilly, Sahibgunj,
Najibabad.
Punjab: Kot Adhian, Changa Manga, Kassowal.
Bengal: Saidpur
Bihar and Orissa: Chautarwa, Angul,
Madras: Sainyapuram (Sitanagar), Stuartpuram, Guntur, Perambur, Pallavaram.

The Army used a combined strategy aimed at transformation of behaviour: well-supervised discipline, productive work and religious education in improved surroundings.

The action of government to ask The Salvation Army to undertake reformation of these tribes exposed them to considerable criticism from some Indian members of the Local Government. In 1922 Sir John P Hewett explained: ‘ ….. some Hindu members of the local council raised a debate on the question. They contended that it was unfair to employ a Christian agency in preference to Hindu agencies. The Hindu members, with few exceptions, were firmly of opinion that no Hindu or Indian agency was so fit to have control of the criminal tribes as The Salvation Army. …’

Even today students of criminology examine the approaches of The Salvation Army in India to ‘Criminocurology’.

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