Encouraged by some bold decisions taken by new Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Verma on the very first day of taking charge, a Delhi Police constable has written a letter to Verma, apprising him of the problems cops at the lower ranks face daily.
In the letter, he has highlighted such issues as poor working conditions, strenuous working hours, lack of promotions and the “ill-treatment” by the station house officers (SHOs), among other problems.
The constable wrote in his letter that he had been in service for the past 25 years without getting a single promotion. He also apprised the Commissioner about the level of “corruption” involved at the lower ranks and the ill-treatment meted out to them by the SHOs.
A head constable, who has been promoted recently after 29 years of service, backed the issues raised in his colleague’s letter. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity, he said, “Constables are the backbone of the police system. Yet, we are the most neglected lot.” He added that lack of promotion and respect is what keeps many away from joining the police.
Another constable, posted in Central Delhi, said that he was aware of the letter written by his colleague and expressed hope that the new police commissioner would help improve the situation of the constables in Delhi. He told The Sunday Guardian, “The new CP has the potential to change the situation and hear our problems. That is why after so many years, someone from us has approached the Commissioner directly.” However, one of his colleagues, who has been in the same post for the past 18 years, seemed to have lost all hope in the system. “Nothing would change; even if he (Verma) has the intention to change, it would not be possible. How can working hours be regulated? We have shortage of staff and there has been no proper recruitment,” he said.
Constables, consisting of almost three-fourth of the Delhi Police force, have strenuous working hours stretching over 14 hours a day and without holidays for months.
A constable said that besides having to endure the “terrifying behaviour of their seniors”, the salaries of constables are very low and not enough to fulfill the needs of their families.
“Corruption in the system begins because of low salaries,” the constable said.
According to Kiran Bedi, former IPS officer, reforms in the police system are not happening because of “lack of political will”.
She also believes that “reformative and welfare policing” can address the problems. Bedi told The Sunday Guardian: “The constables play a key role in security matters, yet they are the most exploited and neglected ranks in the police. Over-working them without leaves is a violation of their human rights. Mental, physical and nutritional training should be given to them so that they can work in a healthy atmosphere. It is time that the courts take cognizance of these issues to address the neglect of the most powerful resource in the country.”