Too many policemen on security duty in India
As if a shortage of policemen in our country is not bad enough, we have a substantial number of our policemen on security duty! That many less to protect us ordinary citizens from criminals.
But how many policemen are on guard duty and how many are doing actual police work? Comprehensive all-India data on the subject was not available on the internet, so I made do with what I could get. I got some data on Delhi, past and present.
Let’s first see what the older data, from the Indian Express, says. The figures are for Delhi only. Out of 55,000 policemen (including those in clerical and non-policing jobs), about 30,000 were on VIP duty or were supervising rallies, demonstrations and guarding sensitive and important public places. About 5000 were in clerical jobs. This left about 20,000 for active policing. As about 2,000 of these were traffic policemen, that decreased the figure to 18,000. Assuming that the figures reported by the IE were correct, this means that:
55 percent of the total available police force in Delhi is engaged in security duty
32 percent are in active policing
3.6 percent are the traffic police
Even if we assume that more policemen in Delhi are on security duty than in other cities, how different can the situation be in other cities? From news articles I found out that it is estimated that about a third to half of the policemen are on security duty at any given time.
VIP’s are to blame
Read this about Mumbai:
“…a bulk of the police personnel are deployed at the local police station in an area of VIP movement. Besides, we secure the services of extra personnel from other police stations. At the time of VIP vehicular movement, PCR Gypsies are stationed along the route concerned and the presence of the local SHO is mandatory. Moreover, top police officials rush to the site to control crowds,’’ reveals a police official. Official records, in turn, point to security personnel being deployed for VIP duty for an average of 211 days in a year. ‘While approximately 4,500 of our men are deployed for VIP duty, it is also our responsibility to hire vehicular escorts for VIPs.”
And this is just about VIP’s! It’s distasteful to read about these things. If the police are on bandobast duty for rallies and are guarding sensitive public places, at least it is a service to the public. But the kind of VIP security that is being seen today is excessive and vulgar.
Here are some of the latest (2007) figures about policemen on just VIP duty in Delhi…
…the Capital has 391 VVIP and VIP protectees. And over 9,000 personnel, mainly from Delhi Police, supplemented by hundreds of paramilitary personnel drawn from forces like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), provide what’s being increasingly seen as a status symbol for many… even Police Control Room vans are positioned in such a manner that VIP houses are accessible at all times…
There have been newspaper reports that not all VIP’s deserve the kind of personal security that they are getting. It says here:
Only 25 per cent of our dignitaries genuinely need protection. For the rest, a gun-toting policeman is a status symbol. VIP duties not only involve the policemen directly assigned to them. They also require more than nominal deployment of local policemen at places visited by them. The first thing that a Minister or his pompous Personal Assistant looks for is whether the local Sub-Inspector is present at a meeting to be addressed by him…
Law and order situation looks bleak
In the meantime, the common man has to live with increasing crime because there aren’t enough policemen to investigate cases. Or even to maintain law and order!! Every single day we are seeing some sort of mob violence…all over India. On Wednesday, rioters burnt vehicles and blocked roads in Agra to protest against the death of four people under a truck…policemen could not reach in time! And just yesterday, a mob attacked a school to protest against a sex racket going on in the school. The people have no faith in the law punishing the culprits and so they take to the streets…and the police cannot stop the riots because there aren’t around… and they don’t punish the rioters because they have no time! Its positively scary. Innocent people often get caught in riots…
So what is being done to increase the number of men on police duty?
Well, the courts have taken note of this issue. In response to a PIL, the Union Home Ministry had promised the high court that measures would be taken to rectify the situation. They had said that:
1) Security will not be provided merely on the ground that the person concerned has occupied a sensitive position in the past.
2) Security will be provided if the threat is predominantly from militants or terrorists.
But that very same news report suggests that security is not being downgraded. If anything, more and more petty demands from ministers are being met.
Also, the Supreme Court had directed the government (after the Sorabjee Committee’s report on police reforms) to put together “an independent police force supported by Territorial Army units, which may be supplemented by retired ex-servicemen, and could be mobilised for short-term election duty. Right-sizing VIP security could also release men for more important duty…”
Some developed countries have security police with limited authority who help the police in security duties. This frees policemen for real investigative work – which means catching criminals!
Hope for the future?
However, just last week the Supreme Court “dismissed a revision petition filed by some states seeking a modification of the apex court’s September 2006 order.” An order, if implemented will mean that the police reforms will see the light of day. The states will be compelled to initiate police reforms.
Well, that is good news. But it’s going to be slow process…and until then we just have to pray, because expecting our fellow citizens with criminal tendencies to behave themselves until then will be a forlorn hope!
(Picture of Mantralaya copyrighted to me, the second picture from the Indian Express and the third from cnn)
Update 18th May 2008 : A Times of India article says:
According to figures available with the Bureau of Police Research and Development, the percentage of vacant posts in case of armed police was more (13.8%) compared to that of civil police (9.8%)…the actual strength of civil police at the end of 2006 stood at 10,91,899 against a sanctioned strength of 12,09,904. Maharashtra had the highest number of civil police with 140,089 personnel, followed by UP, which had 119,893 policemen…As against the nearly 11 lakh civil police, strength of armed police stood at 314,122. UP has the highest contingent of armed police (33,400), followed by Assam (23,708) and Madhya Pradesh (21,607). Only in four northeastern states — Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura — was the strength of armed cops more than that of civil police.