Sunday Mid-Day carried a story on the deplorable conditions that the Bombay police have to work at their newly-appointed work stations in Sewri.
The police are responsible for maintaining the law & order of the country, and given the constraints that bound them, they do a pretty decent job. But have we, for a second, stopped to think about the pathetic conditions in which they live? I have passed by police residential quarters several times and every time I shudder to see the condition of the buildings and the housing complex they live in. Press reports, here or there, have thrown a light on how policemen work under strenuous conditions, especially during festival times, to ensure that law & order is maintained. And when such festivals come in quick succession, such as after August when we have Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Id, Christmas and New Year, policemen have to work round-the-clock under severe stressful conditions and many times do not even get leave.
And God forbid if they are on leave, when an emergency occurs, they are summoned from their leave at the last minute and made to report on duty. If people say that corruption hasn't spared the police, there is a reason. I'd say you pay someone well enough, look after them and their families well, ensure their living conditions are decent and human, pay them commensurate to the hard work they put in and the conditions under which they have to work, and corruption will automatically be weeded out over a longer time frame, eventually. It's a pity that the police have to ultimately report to our politicians and that there is a strong case to make our police more independent (and of course more accountable), but that's another story.
Anyways, coming back to this press report, the reason behind the police posting at this spot is due to the openness of this area to the sea and the risk it poses post 26-11 when terrorists landed on Bombay shores (at Badhwar Park) from sea. But can't the government erect some basic amenities to ensure the well-being of these hard-working policemen who have to fight these inhuman conditions when, at the same time, they are expected to fight any unexpected intrusion of a terrorist kind? Being visionary and proper-planning are not the hallmarks of our administration but this is one more classic example at that. No toilets in the vicinity (the nearest one is half kilometer away), an open-air toilet thanks to the nearby slums and the stench emanating from it to go with, no restaurants to have some much-needed tea, a drain flowing nearby, lots of mosquitoes and also snakes in the vicinity thanks to the mangroves in the area make their working conditions absolutely inhuman. Even the word 'terrible' is an understatement.
I know our record for erecting public toilets is pathetic, but for how long do we need to keep up with it? Arming the police with sophisticated weapons and state-of-the-art protective gear is one thing, but it's equally important to look into their pathetic living and working conditions and try and make their lives a bit easier.