With less than 100 men in 4 stations & 7 outposts, policing the State’s waterways effectively is now a lost cause
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Feb 19: Dogged by acute manpower shortage, the River Police, a branch of the Assam Police, is facing huge difficulties in preventing and detecting crimes in riverine routes and char areas of the State. Besides these two prime responsibilities, the River Police is also assigned to keep a watchful eye on activities of extremists and other anti-social elements and smuggling of goods through river routes.
It may be mentioned that there is also a 110-km long riverine section of the India-Bangladesh border in the State that is highly vulnerable to cross-border infiltration.
Sources in the River Police told The Sentinel that it is not possible to patrol the vast waterways as the unit has below 100 personnel against the sanctioned strength of 207 personnel, which is grossly idequate.
The 4 River Police stations and 7 outposts in the State are functioning without adequate manpower.
There are 4 River Police stations at Pancharat, Sualkuchi, Tezpur and Biswath Ghat and seven river police outposts – Burabari (Mahamaya) outpost, Dhubri; garbera outpost, Kamrup; Beki outpost, Barpeta; Pandu outpost (un-sanctioned), Guwahati; Chanderdinga outpost, Dhubri; Majeralga outpost, Bongaigaon; and Aye outpost, Bongaigaon.
There is a long stretch of waterways from Sadiya to Fakirganj in the State used for transportation. Infiltrators and crimils also use the waterways, making the task of River Police more challenging.
Sources further stated that the Pandu outpost needs to be upgraded into a full-fledged police station, given the large-number of people using the Pandu river route. There is also a need to establish one more floating police outpost at Fancy Bazar and another outpost at Kajoli Chaki under Pandu.
The River Police is not only facing shortage of general personnel, but also shortage of technical and mechanical manpower. Technical and mechanical posts in the River Police have been lying vacant since long. Despite being an important wing of the State Police, it is presently functioning with only 50 per cent of its workforce.
While the State government is well aware of the importance of river policing, it seems to be ignorant and uncaring about the problems making it well nigh impossible for River Police to keep constant watch on the State’s waterways, lamented the sources.