Tuesday, Aug 13, 2002
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By D. Sivarajan
The move to form a union was made many times before, but was repeatedly scuttled by the Government of the day, adopting tough postures leading to suspension of a few policemen.
This did not deter policemen. A group even approached the court.
Police sources say disgruntled policemen, suspended in 1997 for spearheading the formation of an association, continue to campaign discreetly, claiming that the formation of a union, similar to the one in Kerala, was the only way out to get their problems redressed.
According to them, though the idea had gained acceptability among all policemen, the fear of penalisation prevented policemen from espousing the cause. But many were willing to extend financial support. They are hopeful that the idea will materialise when the constabulary is sensitised about the need for it.
Some policemen argue that the task is to bring about a change in the Government perception, which still seems to be influenced by the Police Act of 1861, formulated by the British.
The Act declared that ``constabulary officers should never be given responsible work entailing discretion and common sense of wisdom, because they cannot be trusted''. Despite the National Police Commission rejecting this view, the status of the constabulary had not improved.
Long working hours
With numerous law and order problems, policemen are forced to be work for 14-20 hours a day. This, they claim, is due to poor strength in almost all police stations.
According to them, the strength in a Kerala police station is in the ratio of 1:1:6:25 (one SI, one ASI, six head constables and 25 constables). But the strength in Tamil Nadu, on an average, worked out to 15, including an inspector and sub-inspector, making it difficult for them to attend to the chores of their jurisdiction, with half the strength posted on bandobust duty.
Another anomaly is that as per the recruitment procedures, new recruits get appointed to the Tamil Nadu Special Police and then moved to the Armed Reserve. From there, they are shifted to the Law and Order division of local police stations as constables.
But with no timeframe for this process, policemen end up spending most of their career either as special police personnel or armed reserve personnel. At least 50 per cent of those in the TSP are usually posted as orderlies at the residences of senior police officials, though the post was scrapped. Even after posted to AR, most of them do menial jobs at the residences of senior police officers, such as running errands, polishing shoes, washing clothes, cooking food and taking care of their children. Pay revision, increase in off-duty allowance and special police allowance, special offs for working on holidays, timely promotion and housing figure in the long list of grievances.
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