The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Murder flip side: relief for cops

Mumbai, May 27: Raj Namdev’s murderous attack on his superior in the Central Industrial Security Force, apparently triggered by work-related stress, may end up getting fellow policemen some respite.

A brainstorming — and deeply introspective — session within the top echelons of the police force has decided to “seriously” consider eight-hour shifts for policemen.

One of Namdev’s complaints — as also his father’s — was that stress levels within the lower ranks of the CISF were too high to bear. Father Lalit Prasad Namdev, too, is with the force.

After constable Namdev gunned down deputy commandant A.R. Karandikar at the Chhattrapati Shivaji International airport on Saturday, his family had said he had to put in 12 hours or more of work every day. They also alleged his leave was being cancelled all the time, provoking him to pick up the gun in “utter frustration”.

The force, however, had yesterday come up with evidence that Namdev took leave twice in the last two months.

The evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, the CISF constabulary — after the initial shock — was swept by a wave of empathy for Namdev.

On condition of anonymity, many of his colleagues said they condemned the attack on their officer, but those charging him should also investigate why he did what he did.

This, however, is not the first time the police brass have brainstormed to implement “on the ground” an eight-hour shift for the police force.

Former Mumbai police commissioner M.. Singh had rooted for the idea after a number of suicides and heart attacks were reported among his men from the lower ranks. But Singh’s plan never saw the light of day during his tenure.

Jolted by the Namdev episode, current police chief Ranjit Sharma has now said the earlier directive is “midway through implementation”. The police brass has also decided to ensure that their junior colleagues on duty get the mandatory recess every two hours. “We are reworking the schedules,” Sharma said.

But with only 27 policemen for every 10,000 people in Mumbai, officials realise these things are easier said than done.

Sharma conceded that implementing an eight-hour schedule in police stations would be difficult “due to the demand of duty”. Every senior officer, he said, ends up working 12 hours or more every day.

Sharma, however, said a “research and survey’’ is on to find areas where the eight-hour shift can be implemented.

Though they refused to be quoted, CISF officers, too, said there was a need to “sympathetically” view the grievances of its overworked constabulary.

CISF director-general B.B. Mishra, who has flown in from Delhi, will personally oversee the investigations into the Namdev case and the deliberations for corrective measures to provide respite to the force.

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