On 31st Oct 2002, a bloody riot on the roads of Trivandrum showed me an unseen side of human nature.
That morning, a protest march of 20,000 people was demanding the release of an extremist political leader, arrested in a bomb blast case. As the chief of the Trivandrum City Police, I was standing near the Secretariat gate, leading a huge police contingent.
Suddenly the protest broke into massive violence and brick-batting. As soon as we started the lathicharge, their main leader jumped a nearby compound wall and escaped, abandoning his supporters.
After a few minutes, the violence subsided but many protestors were refusing to disperse. We were persuading their leaders to get the crowd to go home but people were too inflamed to listen.
As we were getting ready for another lathicharge, their number two leader came to me and whispered, “Sir, I will quietly leave in 10 minutes. Then, you can do whatever you want with the crowd.”
My jaw dropped. He didn’t care if we did a lathicharge or opened fire.
Why were these people were risking their lives for leaders who cared little about them or the cause?
Because they had suspended their logical faculty and allowed themselves to be brainwashed by propaganda.
As humans, our biggest asset is our logical thinking — suspend it, and someone will be ready to manipulate us.