Poor pay & orderly system sow seeds of discontent among Men in Khaki
Discontent is brewing among one of the most disciplined police forces in the country. Its about being paid the least when compared to their counterparts in other states of South India. The Men in Khaki have been using the social media and pasting posters to highlight their plight, but the move to stage protests was cancelled. Now, cops are pinning their hopes on the State government.
During the 2017-18 budget, the government had allotted the police department `1,483 crore and `282 crore for the prison department. “Most of the funds in the budget are only an eyewash. The personnel are not benefited,” said an office bearer of the Tamil Nadu Constabulary Association.
“Usually, before the pay commission is fixed, a meeting is conducted with the concerned department to know their demands, which are considered. But for the past many years, the demands of police personnel have been falling on deaf ears.”
According to official data, police personnel in Tamil Nadu are the least paid among states in South India. As per 2016 statistics from Bureau of Police Research and Development, those between the ranks of constables and deputy su- perintendents are the least paid.
For instance, the basic pay for a constable is `5,200 and grade pay is `1,900, whereas an employee in the same cadre in many other departments gets `500 to 600 more in grade pay. But the number of working hours is technically more for the police department as all holidays, including government ones, are not granted.
Recalling the pay during the previous pay commission, another official says, “During the fourth pay commission, the basic pay used to be `240 for police and `160 for teachers, but now they earn about `7,000 to `8,000 and we still make `5,200. However, a hike of about Rs 350 to `500 is granted in January and April and dearness allowance is equal to employees of other departments.”
Be it floods or soaring heat, a natural or man-made disaster, Men in Khaki are the first to reach the spot despite this, and had decided to stage a protest. It is learnt senior police officers who got wind of the impending protest intervened and assured that a grievance meeting will be conducted soon. Subsequently, calls for protests too faded.
Speaking to Express on condition of anonymity, a sub-inspector of police in the city said, “I have been in service for 33 years and getting a pay of Rs 59,000, whereas, a constable gets Rs 38,000 in some States. Apart from this, even get- ting approval for leave is not that easy because of lack of manpower in the department. We are asked to work even during festivals and important family functions,” he points out.
Another head constable says salary is only one of the major problems, with the other being the ‘orderly’ system, where they are not only at the beck and call of higher officials, but also their family members.
“When I joined duty, I was sent to clean my senior officer’s house. His daughter who was about five, used to call me by name and order me around. But I could not complain nor turn down the work. This led to depression, and apart from difficultly in getting leave even for personal reasons, our workload is too was heavy. This led to frequent fights with my family and I became very short -tempered. It was only later I realised I was under depression and approached doctors for help,” recalled the head constable.
“But there have been cases where policemen commit suicide. A 24-hour shift, heavy workload and shortage of manpower would cause severe depression among serving police personnel. At, least, if the orderly system stops and proper shifts and holidays are given with proper salary and incentives, the policemen will be able to work in pease. And there will be effective policing in the State,” he adds.
“Of course, there are perks including quarters and canteen facility. But, the quarters are not maintained properly and not all the grocery items are available in the canteen. I moved into the quarters in 1993 and only last week, the house was painted again.
“As far as the retirement benefits are concerned, GPF (General Provident Fund) which was very useful for policemen, was stopped from 2003. Previously, a total sum of at least `20 lakh was given at the time of retirement or in case of death, which was deducted from our monthly salary, but after the GPF was stopped, it has made it postretirement life difficult,” points out the personnel.
The office-bearer further adds that personnel below the rank of inspectors are the ones who are mostly on the field and are the ones who are least recognised. “Ten years ago, before every budget, a meeting would be conducted with police personnel to find out their demands, and accordingly the budget would be planned. But for many years, nobody has been aware of the money and its usage. For instance, shoe polish is mandatorily given to personnel but for the last few years, we have not received it.”
“Despite all this, we get all the blame from the public. Our demands are fixed working hours and proper salary,” said the office bearer.
When I joined duty, I was sent to clean my senior officer’s house. His fiveyear-old daughter used to call me by name and order me around Head constable