‘Anand Kumar could have been assigned general duty giving him time off’

Anand Kumar was on sentry duty on Friday and was put on bandobast duty on Saturday. He was directed to do night shift on Sunday. In need of leave, he argued with his sub-inspector of police and when denied permission, Anand Kumar shot him dead, out of frustration.

The crime may have shocked the Police Department, though it is common knowledge that constables are stressed due to long work hours. This, it is said, is due to the large number of vacancies in the constabulary. While there are 92,000 police constables, 18,000 posts of constables are vacant, sources told The Hindu.

The severe staff crunch has not only affected the morale of the policemen but has had an adverse effect on most of them who put in 12-hour shifts a day. This has not only affected their health but has also increased cases of insubordination among the constabulary.

“On an average, constables work for more than 12 hours a day and end up going home late since most stay outside the city as they cannot afford the high rents here,” a senior police official said.

Though there is a provision for the constables to avail themselves of accommodation at the police housing quarters, the conditions there are so poor that only about 20 per cent of the constables have made use of the facilities, he added.

In the case of Anand Kumar, the sub-inspector of police could have allowed him to take up general duty giving him time off, the official said.

Though the department is aware of the problems with the constabulary, regular counselling and interactive sessions are not arranged for junior level officials, according to constables.

Home Minister R. Ashok told presspersons that “the inquiry (instituted under Additional Director-General of Police Bipin Gopalkrishna) will reveal what transpired between the two and what provoked the shooting.”

To reduce work pressure, he said, the Home Department is taking steps. “More police personnel are being recruited. As they have to undergo one-year training before joining duty and fill vacancy, the gap continues,” he added.

Meanwhile, he directed Mr. Gopalkrishna to review the situation arising out of staff shortage and denial of leave.

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