Bengaluru: As the weather is getting chilly, policemen in the city have to do without proper warm clothing even during their night beats. That is because the insensitive government has not provided them with even this basic facility.
If police officers wrap themselves up in jackets, wrong-doers don’t see their uniform and will not fall in line. To avoid these problems, officers are working without jackets all the time, a senior police officer said.
The beat police are not given two-wheelers and they have to use their own vehicles, for which the fuel expense is not reimbursed. Only three to four Cheetah vehicles – the two-wheeler patrolling vehicles – are allotted per police station, while the staff have to do six to eight beats. With the shortage of staff at around 40 percent, the policemen are not getting their weekly offs and are overburdened with work. “We are trying to ensure the safety of women and others with the available staff and infrastructure. We cannot have an effective beat system under present circumstances,” confessed a police officer.
The government gives uniform, shoes and socks, but all other requirements have to be borne by the policemen themselves. The strength of the police force in the state is around 24,000, while the population is over six crore. In Bengaluru alone, the population is over 1.5 crore, which is policed by 8,000 to 10,000 men and women. Without filling this gap, how can the government or people expect us to provide efficient and effective policing, asked another senior police officer.
Mr K.N. Jagadesh Kumar, an advocate, too said that with the present facilities, it is impossible for the police department to ensure fool-proof security. To ensure safety of women in and around Metro stations and at lonely places, there needs to be an effective beat system which will prevent a large number of crimes. The government has not even given them the headgear. Except for the staff assigned to Cheetah vehicles, the fuel cost is not reimbursed for other policemen.
Policemen are taken away from their beats and posted on VVIP duty whenever there is a requirement. It is a cardinal rule that the beat policemen should not be touched, but it happens frequently as there is a severe shortage of staff in the department,” he said.
Beat policemen should be given jackets, headgear and vehicles with special lights to instil fear among anti-social elements, Mr Kumar said.
Ms Alfa Rasheed, a student from Kerala who was in the city for a brief period, said that she felt safe in the city when compared to Kerala as a lot of people were on the street. “I felt safe when I walked with my friends, but not when I was alone,” she said.
When asked about the requirements of policemen, Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said it is stuck in red-tape. “My cops are standing in the cold and managing their duties. I will make some arrangements and will get them their requirements from the open market. I will not wait for the government allotment,” he said.
“The police department cannot say no to any order and our men have to compulsorily obey them, whatever the challenge is. We will ensure the safety of woman as we have always done,” a senior officer said.
“The government should ensure proper facilities to policemen. It is time the government sanctioned the required staff strength and at least minimum facility,” the officer said.