Questions are being raised at the manner in which police recruitment tests are being conducted in the city after five candidates have lost their lives while appearing for tests. Many candidates had arrived in Mumbai from various parts of the state for attending the examination while some of them had also prepared for it. Most of the candidates belong to middle class and poor financial background. A petition too has been filed in the Bombay High Court about the lack of adequate amenities at the venue where tests were held.
The PIL urged the court to halt the recruitment tests immediately and pay compensation to the families of the victims and ask the state government to frame guidelines to provide better amenities for candidates appearing for recruitment tests. Many candidates were unable to bear the heat and collapsed while running 5 km which is mandatory for clearing the tests. Most of them covered the distance without having food. As per rules the tests should have been conducted before 9.30 am or after 4.30 pm but it was held in the afternoon when temperatures were high. Candidates were asked to assemble at the venue at 6 am but the actual tests had begun only after 11 am. Till then aspirants were kept waiting on the highway.
No accommodation facilities were provided to the candidates as many of them were seen spending night at the railway station and bus stops. At least 1, 20,000 youngsters have applied for the 2,500 posts of constables in the Maharashtra police.
According to the circular, biscuits and bananas should be made available to aspirants at subsidised rates. However, no food was provided to the applicants. Many of them had to purchase water by paying an exorbitant sum of Rs 30 and fruit vendors too overcharged them. The selection centres were not neat and clean and amenities like drinking water, first aid and crowd controlling force were not provided. Tests were held at public roads at many centres due to small size of grounds. The state government’s lackadaisical attitude has claimed the lives of several candidates.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray criticised Home Minister RR Patil and said that he was unfit to govern. He questioned the need for conducting fitness test when half of the ministry is pot-bellied. Uddhav slammed the state government for making a mockery of poor candidates. It’s the responsibility of the state government to provide basic amenities whenever such type of recruitment activities are held as enrolment charges are being collected from the candidates.
The DG office in its circular had said that regular announcements should be made over the public address system asking candidates to take proper precautions while running but no such instructions were issued by the policemen present at the venue.
City Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria has taken responsibility for the deaths of five candidates. He said that from now onwards the tests will be held in evening to provide relief to candidates from the scorching heat. A team of 100 medical students and doctors will be deputed at the spot where examinations are held to examine every candidate before allowing him to appear for the test. A probe has already been ordered under the leadership of Joint Commissioner, Crime Sadanand Date. Finally, it’s the responsibility of the state government and the police department to ensure that the tests are being held in a fair manner and candidates doesn’t undergo any hardships.