Saturday, January 25, 2014

Why Maharashtra Police is unhappy

The Maharashtra Director General of Police's recent offer to withdraw the police contingent from the state's Republic Day parade at Marine Drive after the armed forces strongly pushed for their own men to lead and second lead the parade is just a tip of the proverbial iceberg of the unhappiness among the police brass as to how shabbily the government treats the police.
While DGP Sanjeev Dayal's offer to withdraw his force was on the point of a well laid principle that a state police force offer leads parade at the Republic Day parades in all states where such functions are held, it will be wise if the political bosses understand that not all is well in the force and underneath such reactions of top police bosses lie some issues which needs attention.
Members of the IPS, who being in the position of leadership, feel that Maharashtra Police is taken for granted by the political leadership vis-a-vis other departments of government. They want that the leadership should acknowledge and understand that Maharashtra Police is an important arm of the government and more than that it is a part and parcel. Such a view has been growing in the force due to some recent developments and some examples in the past where the force believes it was discriminated upon.
The recent issue is the inordinate delay in causing transfers in the hiearchy for the past one and half years without citing any convincing reason. More than half the force in the rank of officers have completed tenures and more than a dozen are long due for promotions. For no legitimate reason, the transfers have been withheld with neither the Home Minister nor the Chief Minister holding a dialogue with the force on who put the spanner in.
On the contrary, promotions of IAS officers were announced on time, in the first week of January, causing a strong heartburn in the IPS and SPS community.
Top IPS officers feel that the Maharashtra police, as a part of the government machinery, has done its best all the time, but when it comes to rewards, they are discriminated and left out.
The force feels that for no reason, when it came to fixing salaries of hierarchies in different departments during implementation of the last pay commission recommendations, the state lowered salary grades of police officers and men at three levels vis-a-vis salary structures of their counterparts in the Revenue department, although the job profiles of both is nearly the same in dispensing law and order duties.
First, the salary structure of the lowest rung Talathi was hiked that the head constable, then the police inspector's salary structure was lowered than that of a Tehsildar and lately, the sub-divisional police officer (SDPO or SDOP) was made subordinate to his peer in the Revenue department, the sub divisional magistrate (SDM).
A senior police officer recalls a past experience in which the job of distributing subsidised fertilisers was handed over to Maharashtra police in an extraordinary case after Revenue officials bungled and there were allegations of bungling and misconduct against them. According to the officer, when a law and order problem arose in a district in VIdarbha during the distribution process by police, the concerned officer was summarily placed under suspension. But the revenue officers who had earlier bungled allegedly went scott-free.
In the present case of holding the Republic Day parade on Marine Drive too, the police feels that the government leadership did not protect honour and interests of its own men - the police. 
Officers argue that when the armed forces placed conditions about leading and second leading the parade, government meekly accepted it instead of holding ground firm, not realzing that the parade was a state function.
The tough stand taken by DGP Dayal is in most likelihood attract further hostilities from his peers in other departments and the issue may not settle soon.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

R K Sahay's death and Maharashtra Police

The accidental death of Maharashtra ADGP Ranjeet Sahay last week should trigger a debate on cadre management of Maharashtra police and the increasing despair and frustration among the police officers over career progression and opportunities.
While the confusion over whether Sahay committed suicide or suffered burns in an accident have now been laid to rest, both by his own dying declaration and the statement of his wife, his case is a peculiar case where an IPS officer was deprived of responsibilities because few among his brethren were luckier. While many would still argue that Sahay was not assigned greater responsibilities for other varied reasons, there is no denial that his case has revealed that not all is well in Maharashtra police.
Maharashtra police has over the years witnessed a vertical divide between the `have's and `have not's. Those by virtue of their socio political or other influences having bagged prime postings and bigger responsibilities continuously, and those who have been deprived of it for years for no tangible reasons.
None in Maharashtra police can deny that there has also been a marked discrimination among officers who are posted in Mumbai and those outside Mumbai, with the latter being traditionally treated as poor cousins. A handful of officers continue to remain perpetually posted in the state capital and around, while a majority are denied these postings despite having proved professional capabilities. It will not be wrong to say that Sahay fell in the second lot.
 Sahay's tales of idiosyncrasies have been discussed for years now. That he was unusually harsh to his subordinates, cynical at times even to his bosses and punishing to most of those around. I wonder if these traits emerged in this officer because he was never ever offered a posting in Mumbai, a place every IPS officers dreams to work.
Members of the IPS fraternity, who have been deprived of opportunity to work in Mumbai often remark that there exists a Mumbai cadre within the state police. There would be at least two to three dozen IPS officers who have consistently remained in Mumbai, enjoying good postings in all aspects, occupying plush sea-facing bungalows, something which their brethren from rest of Maharashtra also desire, but most never achieve.
I remember an IG level IPS officer, who spent over 20 years outside Mumbai and is now begging for a posting in Mumbai just because he needed that experience for further career progression.
Top bosses in Maharashtra police and the political bosses have never given a thought to proper cadre management in the state, the resultant being a huge chasm among the officers.
Over the years, Maharashtra police has become top heavy. The number of posts of DGPs has gone up from two to six, those of ADGPs from 8 to 16 and now 23. On the other the cutting edge workforce has reduced, as a result of which Maharashtra police is now recruiting IPS officers close to a dozen each year. This year, a record 40 state services officers got inducted in the IPS due to the huge paucity of field officers. 
On the other hand, there is increasing competition at the top, with 23 ADGPs competing for four posts of police commissioners and one a handful of equivalent posts in the state police headquarters. With postings in Mumbai demanding prior experience, a huge chunk of senior IPS officers get edged out, and frustration begins here.
Central deputations are not encouraged much, and neither are those who volunteer rewarded when they return, nor those who refuse are relegated. The Home department has made it compulsory for officers up to police inspectors to do at least one `hard' posting in Vidarbha and Marathwada after a promotion, but the same rule does not apply to IPS officers.
There are no doubt some very good officers at the top, who may like to bring about better cadre management and provide more career progression opportunities, but their hands are tied down as the powers to transfers and postings have eventually gone to the political bosses, more so since the coalition governments came in.
Although money power in transfers has waned to a large extent in Maharashtra, the state police bosses and the political dispensation needs to take some drastic steps to ensure a better cadre management. Let Maharashtra not lose its position as a better administered state.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apologies again

Its been almost two months since I have posted on this blog. Too big a gap for a blog on current affairs, I admit. But I have been too preoccupied in some personal issues that forced to keep moving in an out of Mumbai in the past two months. First, my apologies to all who follow this blog for not having updated my blog. 
These two months have had witnessed some important developments not just in Mumbai, but also across the country. The Mumbai Shakti Mill gang rape, arrest of important Indian Mujahideen terrorist, Yasin Bhatkal, the Muzaffarnagar riots, the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal in Uttar Pradesh, have been some of the important developments pertaining to Home affairs, policing and security.
In Maharashtra, one more important development occurred was the arrest of a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student in Gadchiroli for suspected Maoist connections along with an activist from Uttarakhand.
A week ago, a senior IPS officer from Maharashtra, ADGP (Housing) Ranjit Kumar Sahay resorted to self immolation in what is seen as a fall out of tremendous stress on professional as well as family front.
In the coming days, I shall be updating this blog on developments in all the issues mentioned above. What also needs mention is the move started by former DGP Prakash Singh for police reforms in the country. Prakash Singh is a legendary figure in the IPS community, whose petition in the Supreme Court resulted in the landmark judgement on segregation of police machinery from the executive to bring in more transparency and neutrality.
Please bear with us for the delay so far, and I promise you that the blog will be updated on regular basis in days ahead. Thanks once again.
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