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UNSEEN LIFE OF MUMBAI POLICE

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Every year lakhs of aspirants travel from different places with dreams of joining Mumbai Police force. This year's Mumbai Police recruitment process will begin soon. At present there are approximately 56,000 constables and officers in the Mumbai Police force spread across 100 police stations. There is now excessive competition to join Mumbai Police.

In recent times, people reportedly fear the police lesser and also tend to blame them for the inefficiency. Shriya Ramakrishnan, however, brings out the plight of the police force in Mumbai and the difficulties faced by them during selection, training and while on duty

It maybe recalled that 2014 witnessed the deaths of four police constable aspirants after the 5 kilometer run that is part of the recruitment process. This 5 kilometer run during excess heat becomes a difficult task even for someone who has been in regular practice. Many police officials also mentioned that food comprising of inferior quality ingredients are served to them during training.

Usually police constables have a 12-hour duty time, however this increases most of the time  and even if a case is reported five minutes before their duty ends. They aren't provided with overtime allowances. Although every police officer has to get a weekly off, this could  get canceled many times when they have to attend to urgent cases. They are granted up to 45 days of leave each year which eventually comes down to 15 days and 5 days in some extreme cases.

Mumbai witnesses the celebration of several festivals each year. However, there is not a single festival which police officers can spend with their families. Their erratic work timings has a terrible impact on their family life. Since they aren't provided housing allowance either, they are compelled to take houses in far off places which increases travel time.

“I reach home when my child is asleep and I have to leave even before my child wakes up. My wife has to manage the entire house. They are accustomed to me not being around.

After duty a lot of time goes in travel and then I just get about 7-8 hours at home . We lead a robotic life,” a police constable said.

Women cops have their problems too...
Women police personnel have to deal with several other problems. It wasn't until last year that women Government Railway Police (GRP) were given changing rooms of their own by outgoing GRP commissioner Ravinder Singal. Women police personnel who spoke to ADC mentioned that it becomes more difficult for married women because at least their parents would understand when they came back home late from work.

The major challenge continues to be untimely payment of salaries and work hours. One of the police constables who spoke to ADC even showed his lunch box and explained that he hasn't eaten since two days due to an urgent case. According to sources, they are paid even lesser than government peons who are also granted more leave. In case of any medical illness, a letter has to be submitted and only after enquiry the police official can seek treatment in specific hospitals. This often leads to a deduction in their salary which makes them afraid to approach their seniors for a medical leave.

The process of transfer of a police official increases his difficulty. Although he is aware that a transfer will take place, he gets to know very late as to where he will be transferred. This hinders his child's admission process.

Even the process of making an arrest is lengthy. Before making any arrest, they have to prepare a letter followed by an enquiry due to which precious time is lost.

Guiding the traffic of the city...
Traffic police especially face such problems as they have to spend their entire duty under the sun with minimal breaks. They are the ones who have to face the trouble of being stranded at the busy junctions, mostly without the traffic kiosk. However, they still continue to do their work facing all kinds of pollution – the air, the noisy horns and even the irritated motorists. “We never complain. We do our work as our main aim is to see smooth flow of the traffic. Sometime, we do face some irate motorist who complain when being caught or fined – often pushing their influence with politicians or superior officers. However, this is all a part of our duty for this city!,” said a traffic cop, who wished to be anonymous.

Cops at election and VIP duty...
During elections, police personnel have to report as early as 5 am even if their duty begins only by 8 am. They have to spend hours standing in the same place, which takes a toll on their health. Traffic police especially face such problems as they have to spend their entire duty under the sun with minimal breaks. They also emphasized that Mantralaya workers who come only for one day receive better food and water facilities, where as after spending two days doing the same duty, they barely get any food or pure drinking water. Police personnel have to be present at least four hours before the VIP enters and they can leave only after instructions from seniors which according to police officials mostly depends upon the “mood” of their seniors. About 20 percent of the police force have to work at ‘protecting’ VIPs.

“If people have elected you, what is the need for so much protection? You should be able to walk fearless in such a case. It is understandable if you require 2-3 bodyguards.

Senior police inspectors expressed that they have the burden of solving problems of inspectors, constables and citizens. They are unable to fix schedules for the next day. They have to give priority to problems pertaining to law and order first, followed by investigation and finally other day to day problems. There is a lot of stress for police officials who have to escort the accused to the court and jail. Ensuring that they don't attempt to run away is a stressful task.

It is said that at least 1 policeman dies everyday due to health or any other reason. They have to face departmental and political pressure. Police officers expressed that people can only cooperate with them to make Mumbai a safer place. They emphasized that although they have to face several hardships, they are determined to serve people. Raising their position in society, providing them with better pay and facilities and respecting them is the need of the hour.

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