| Policemen run during the fitness test for promotion in Bhopal on Monday. Picture by Raj Patidar
Bhopal, Oct. 4: Fortune favours the brave. For Madhya Pradesh police, however, it favours the fit.
Constables, eyeing the post of hawaldar, were asked to take part in a 15-km race today. The police top brass, after enforcing a 'cut-the-flab' regime on personnel in the dacoit-infested Bhind district, organised this one-of-its-kind promotion scheme to fill 15 vacancies for the post of grade-B hawaldar in their Special Task Force.
Officers hit upon the idea after they realised that most constables had been recruited decades ago and did not have the adequate educational qualifications for the promotion.
At 10 this morning, three truckloads of policemen were ferried from Bhopal and neighbouring Vidisha district to Ratibad on the outskirts of the state capital.
Around 53 policemen, mostly pot-bellied and in the twilight of their careers, cursed their way from Ratibad to the Bhopal police lines. A police van kept watch to prevent the reluctant racers from hitching a ride or hiring an auto-rickshaw.
Many collapsed on the way while some found a 'clever' way out, preferring to stroll right from the start. A few brave ones, desperate for the lone promotion of their career, continued to run, but only for a few hundred metres. With no competition in sight, they, too, changed gears to a brisk walk.
An hour later, a handful made it to the finishing line, but they were far from triumphant. Many of them even complained of 'inhuman treatment'.
DIG Sanjeev Singh, however, defended the novel method, saying it was a 'time-tested practice' to select grade-B hawaldars. The police also denied that the constables had been forced to take part in the race and said those suffering from high blood pressure or other ailments had been kept out of the fray.
However, a police trainer admitted that a man, slated to retire in three months, was among those made to run.
For Ram Pal, Jai Shankar Tiwari and Chandra Prakash, the race was a ticket to an elusive promotion. 'We began our career as a constable and do not wish to retire as one,' Pal said.
A fortnight ago, chief minister Babulal Gaur, who also holds the home portfolio, had lectured the city police force on the benefits of yoga and jogging.
On a surprise round of police stations, Gaur had caught constables napping on duty. The next day, a meeting was called where Gaur urged them to jog 10 km everyday.