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.