SRPF personnel in Daund forced to plough fields and sell fruits

Hundreds of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) personnel are grazing cattle, selling fruits and vegetables, ploughing fields and harvesting cash crops when they could be guarding vital installations or tackling crime.

The Hindu travelled to the SRPF base, which comprises Group 5 & 7 units, located in Daund, Pune. Spread over 300 acres, Daund is a key base for the 16,000-strong armed force.

SRPF vehicles are parked next to lush green fields in the base. The winter wheat crop greets you while jowar can be seen a few km away. And there are the guava, mango, lemon, chikoo and custard apple trees. Constables can be seen grazing sheep and goats.

In October last year, Sanjay Pandey, then DIG, SRPF, decided to start a Facebook page to connect with his staff. Constables used the page to bring their plight to the notice of their superiors. “Through the page, we came to know about the problems being faced by our jawans,” Mr. Pandey said.

Twenty-five year old Deepak Singh (name changed) always wanted to become a policeman. But when he joined Group 7 of the SRPF three years ago, his dream was shattered. He saw policemen working the fields, running behind sheep and selling fruits. “Two constables are in charge of different crops and fruits. Others are pulled in at the time of harvest or sale. We are also asked to graze the cattle. It doesn’t matter if we have worked for over 12 hours. Once the order is issued, we have no option but to comply.” Another constable said policemen are punished if they refuse to do these jobs. “If we refuse, the Superintendent of Police keeps a close watch on us, and fines us for trivial matters,” a third constable stated.

Inspector General, SRPF, Sunil Ramanand visited the base in January and asked the SP to sell the cattle and stop the farming activities. But the activities continue.

Mr. Ramanand said: “This is a regular practice followed at the SRPF. Money from the activities is used for the welfare of the force.” Mr. Ramanand agreed though that with changing times, constables are not comfortable doing these “jobs.” “We are going to bring this to the notice of the newly appointed Additional Director General of Police and a decision will be taken soon,” he said.