* Manpower shortage, leading to work overload
* Dismal living conditions
* Murky promotion & transfer/posting policy, poor pay
* Taunts from seniors
* Undue political interference
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, May 19: Enforcing law and order in Assam comes with a high level of stress for its policemen on the ground.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had himself admitted during the SMART Policing workshop recently, that “to be smart, police personnel need to be stress-free”. However, in the last 14 years Gogoi has held additiol charge of Home, he had no remedy to make the police force stress-free.
While senior police officials continue to enjoy all perks and luxuries of high office, the men on the ground continue to slog under heavy workload and crushing mental strain – most of it blamed on shortage of personnel, taunts from seniors and deplorable living conditions at barracks and battalion headquarters.
The police-to-population ratio in Assam is abysmally low. While there are 78,000 police personnel in the State, the required strength is double this figure.
“There are 102 government holidays for other employees. But we have none. We don’t even have Sundays. This apart, due to shortage of personnel, most of the lower rung personnel have to work for 18 hours on an average every day,” said a functiory of the All Assam Police Association.
The Chief Minister has time and again assured that in order to streamline the functioning of the force, the law and order wing and investigation wing will be separated. However, officials said, this promise will continue to remain a pipe-dream, unless the critical shortfall in manpower is filled.
Another policeman rued that even promotions of the lower rung personnel are “not automatic”. “This had led to pendency in many promotions, thus demoralizing the staff,” he said, adding that even the Pay Commissions have been doing “injustice to the lower rank police personnel”.
Basic facilities like electricity, drinking water, toilets etc - in the barracks and battalion headquarters are also in deplorable state.
“On top of that, many personnel have to work under undue duress due to their seniors and political leaders. Everyone knows that much of the transfer and postings are due to political interference,” said a junior officer.
The police personnel lament that they are not even able to exercise their franchise during elections as they have to be on poll duty. “The State government should take up with the Election Commission to make the system of voting for police personnel hassle-free,” the All Assam Police Association said, advocating a new policy of police–public relations.