The police force is saddled with more and more duties, writes L. Srikrishna

At a time when the police personnel seem to be functioning against several limitations in maintaining law and order, rising crimes and traffic, providing bandobust to VIPs, the recent move to provide protection to statues of some national leaders in this part of the region has come as an added burden to the custodians of law.

Following the alleged desecration of Muthuramalinga Thevar statue at Goripalayam by some miscreants, tension prevailed in the city. There were disturbances in a few neighbouring districts as well for some time. As a sequel, public and private properties were damaged.

The timely intervention of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi into the issue not only eased the mounting tension but also ensured that it did not spread far in the State.

In a bid to instil confidence among the followers of Muthuramalinga Thevar, Mr. Karunanidhi ordered bandobust for statues as a precautionary step. On instructions, the police officers at the respective cities/districts posted adequate personnel round-the-clock for the statues that were likely to be targeted.

Though police officers opine that nothing untoward will recur, they are not keen to withdraw the bandobust provided to these statues. In Madurai, though there are several statues of late leaders such as Anna, Periyar, MGR, P. Kakkan, V. O. Chidambaram, Mahatma Gandhi and Kamaraj at several places, bandobust is provided only to Thevar and Ambedkar statues, police say.

The Thevar statue at Goripalayam junction is guarded by a team comprising one sub-inspector, a policeman and five Reserve policemen round-the-clock on shift basis.

Similarly, the Ambedkar statue on the Alagarkoil Road is also guarded by one sub-inspector and two policemen.

Apart from the strength provided at these points, Inspectors and Assistant Commissioners of Police have been instructed to supervise the bandobust arrangements.

Lack of personnel

A senior officer said that the Police Department had been facing vacancy problems at every level. For instance, in the city alone the sanctioned strength in many police stations, at the traffic wing and at officer levels, remains to be filled up. When such is the situation, deputing personnel for such bandobust assignments would only confound the problems further. Action to be taken on genuine and urgent petitions might be delayed indefinitely.

When asked for an alternative, he said, “With able intelligence collection, the law and order police should be able to overcome ‘threat’ to statues.”