OTHERS

Police constables working 7 days a week

BANGALORE, MAY 7. Due to acute shortage of staff and increasing work pressure, police constables and head constables in the State in general and Bangalore City in particular have not been able to take their weekly offs.Though the constables and head constables are legally entitled to avail a day's off every week, they are being made to work seven days a week and are not even paid overtime allowance for working on the day of their weekly off.

A constable gets a meagre allowance of Rs. 30 for working on the day of his weekly off, while employees in many other government, semi- government and private undertakings get twice the day's salary as overtime allowance for working on a holiday. The overtime allowance is now substantial after the acceptance of the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations.

Though constables and head constables get one month's salary as compensation every January for working on general holidays and festivals, they are not paid suitable compensation for working on the day of their weekly off.

When this reporter checked the attendance registers at several police stations in Bangalore, it was found that the majority of constables and head constables had not availed their weekly offs for more than three months.

Further, the shortage of staff and work pressure have also resulted in constables and head constables not getting adequate break in between their night shift and regular shift.Every constable and head constable is on night shift, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., for 15 days in a month. Unlike in the case of many other government employees, the constables do not even get night shift allowance. They are not provided with transportation either.

Many constables and head constables say that their family life has been badly affected due to frequent night shifts. ``Unless we avail casual leave or sick leave, we cannot spend a day with our family as we are continuously working for months without getting our weekly offs,'' said some constables.

Quoting the provisions of the Karnataka State Police Act, a constable said: ``We know that policing is a 24-hour job. But we too are human beings and need some rest. Even those working in defence services get annual leave.''

Meanwhile, there is also disparity in allowances paid to constables and officers. The constables and head constables get a washing allowance of Rs. 12 per month while officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above get a monthly washing allowance of Rs. 150.

``Though we wear the same uniform, the allowance is not the same. The senior officers are in civil dress for most part of the day. It is the constables who are on the field wearing uniform all the time,'' say constables. ``We have to starch our uniforms and get them ironed regularly. We cannot even get a bar of good detergent for Rs. 12,'' said one of them.