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All is not well with Mumbai Khakhi

Senior cop Himanshu Roy’s shocking suicide incident has once again brought forward stressful lives lived by the policemen while discharging their duties. Media had given massive coverage to Roy’s suicide incident but what about the agony undergone by other policemen in the city? Life of a cop is tough in the state as they have to work for long hours that take a heavy toll on their health. Due to increased work pressure, many of them are unable to spend quality time with their families. Erratic work schedule is affecting the lives of the policemen as they are unable to concentrate while performing their work.

Minister of state for Home Deepak Kesarkar said, “Policemen are asked to undergo a medical check-up at regular intervals. Himanshu Roy was suffering from cancer which was incurable. Health camps are organised to enable cops for overcoming stress. I will review the current working conditions of the police force.”

“The major reason behind cops undergoing stress is that they are aspiring for better accommodation facilities, health, and education for their children. We are implementing eight-hour shift for police officials in a phased manner. Government is adopting a holistic approach to address problems of the cops,” he added.

Often cops’ leaves get cancelled during festivals or whenever terror attack incident occurs or when VIPs arrive in the city. While performing duties, police officials miss important occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, and weddings. Cops tend to get depressed and show signs of anxiety when they are unable to allot time for these activities. Many of them are staying in distant suburbs and have to commute one to two hours for reporting to duty. Police officials aspire to get promotion, lucrative posting and incentives. Failure to fulfil these objectives is another reason responsible for cop suicides.

Psychiatrist Dr. Harish Shetty said, “A holistic approach is needed for addressing the problems faced by the police force. If they are undergoing stress then it should be detected. Stress can occur when a person is facing problems in his personal or professional life. Cops need proper rest and their working hours should be reduced to eight. There is a need to make some changes in their working lifestyle.”

There is a massive shortage of personnel in the police department but the state government is reluctant to hire manpower to fill up the vacant posts. As a result of this, cops have to work for 12 to 14 hours a day. The government had planned to enforce eight hour shift for police officials but have failed to implement it. Hierarchy is another factor which is affecting the morale of policemen. Often seniors harass their subordinates and use abusive language against them. Cops often suffer in silence due to lack of effective redressal mechanism to resolve the problems faced by them.

Pravin Dixit, former director general of Police, said, “How we behave in personal life is important. In the service span of 30-35 years it is not necessary that we should remain in limelight all the time as it creates stress. All talk about the shortage of manpower in police department is a myth.”

“It depends on various factors like location, working condition. There is an adequate strength of policemen in urban areas as compared to rural areas. Policemen have to undergo annual medical check-up along with psychiatrist test. A positive attitude is needed to address problems faced by them,” he added.

As per a report by the National Crime Records Bureau, Maharashtra tops the list for police suicides as 200 cases were reported from 2006 to 2011. Nearly 168 personnel attached to various departments of the Mumbai police ended their lives from 2002 to 2012. The state government is least bothered to address the issues faced by policemen. Today, it has become difficult for cops to buy a flat in Mumbai due to rising real estate prices in the city. The government has not taken adequate steps to address the housing needs of police officials.

A police officer spoke to AV on the condition of anonymity, he said, “Earlier candidates used to apply in large numbers for getting recruited in the state police force. However, things have changed drastically now as youth are searching for other career opportunities as they are aware of the stress undergone by cops. Thus, a career in the police force is looked down upon by the youth today.”

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