The police constable, who forms the lowest rung of the department’s hierarchy, has always felt neglected and the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission will make little difference to his pay or status. The increase? Marginal, from the existing Rs 3050-4590 to Rs 3200-4900.
Senior IPS officers of Delhi echo their concern. A senior officer said, “Salaries of constables are comparable only with semi-skilled workers, though their work is much more complicated and risky. But still the common man mistrusts them, and their own senior officers deal strictly with them.”
A beat constable often has to patrol alone at night, armed with only a baton: he stands with two other constables at police pickets and flags down speeding vehicles with only the ‘protection’ of a police barricade.
On May 15, a constable on picket duty was killed when a speeding tempo hit him in Southwest Delhi.
“We are expected to know everything from various Sections of IPC and CrPC rules to the latest Supreme Court judgments, on the basis of which we have to make arrests or escort suspects to police stations,” a constable said. “Senior officers often lecture us about being courteous, and to have a basic knowledge of English. But where is the motivation?”
A senior officer said constables have to be familiar with people on their beat and depend on them for information. It’s hardly a cakewalk to develop ‘contacts’, though: with transfers and suspensions within months of posting, it is a tough ask to cultivate relationships with people.
A constable’s salary is lower than that of an Army jawan and cops claim they also have similar, or at times worse, working hours and conditions.“Bollywood films show the plight of jawans and highlight their pain at being away from their families,” a constable posted in South Delhi said. “I am from Haryana, and I also see my family once in two months or more. But a jawan’s salary is much higher.”
With the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations increasing a constable’s grade pay by just Rs 100, senior officers say it is increasingly difficult to recruit young men to the post.
Walking the beat
NEWSLINE chronicles the daily routine of a constable posted in South Delhi. He lives in Vaishali, Ghaziabad, and needs to leave home latest by 7 am to make it in time for the daily 9-am meeting with the Station House Master.
9 am: Meeting lasts for about an hour. The staff is briefed about instructions by senior officers and told about places where more security is required.
10 am: Leaves for his beat (each manned by a head constable and two constables). In his beat, he usually visits senior citizens to know whether they are dissatisfied with security arrangements. Beat duty starts after that. Halts at many places — evidently to light up a beedi — are actually meant for interaction with sources.
1 pm: A lunch break. Beat duty resumes after that. He has to be on guard, as senior officers do random inspection.
5 pm: Back to the police station for evening meeting.
If he misses out on that, he is marked absent and the day’s salary is gone.
6 pm: After tea and snacks, it’s back to the beat.
10.30 pm: Day’s final meeting.
11.30 pm: Leaves for home.
NIGHT SHIFT HOURS
9 am: Morning meeting.
1 pm: Take an accused and produce him in court. He has to be on alert because the accused is normally not handcuffed and has to be held by hand.
5 pm: Evening meeting over, rest in police barracks.
Midnight: After night meeting at 10.30 pm, back to his beat.
5 am: Return to the police station and rest; is woken up for morning meeting at 9 am.