Job satisfaction, they say, is derived from doing what one wants to do, the acknowledgement one receives for doing what one’s doing, and getting paid adequately for it. Unfortunately, none of these qualify for the average police constable, whose prime responsibility is to ensure that your life and property is well protected.
And when job satisfaction itself is marginalised, that too in the background of high stress levels, sheer desperation and frustration are not far behind. The last two form a deadly combination when it comes to the brink.
As per information on salary structures in various states, a police constable in Bangalore/Karnataka at entry level earns a basic salary of just Rs11,500 as compared with Rs15,446 in Maharashtra, Rs14,201 in Bihar (which is known to be very poor in policing), Rs13,556 in Tamil Nadu, while Central government pays Rs18,358.
A police constable from the Sheshadripuram sub-division said, “I have 10 years of experience and at present my basic salary is Rs13,000. In a city like Bangalore, a single bedroom house on the city’s outskirts costs at least Rs5,000 per month as rent, apart from expenditure incurred on daily home needs and children’s school fees and all that.”
He admits that by the end of the month, his family of four face a shortage of at least `2,000 almost every month. Crime police constables, despite being paid money for recovering stolen items—Rs10,000 per 500 grams of gold recovered—are expected to share the amount among the team members.
A cross-section of police constables told DNA that crime beat police while able to spend more money can also “make” more money than the law & order police constable. “When we are on beat (two police constables), we cannot walk and cover the beat places assigned to us. We use our motorcycles. But to meet the the fuel expenses, we take Rs10 from each shop in our jurisdiction. Though I want to be a clean policeman, I am forced to take the money because we do not get our dues the right way from the department,” said a constable from JC Nagar police sub-division.
DNA has learnt that even from the measly savings that a police constable can make for his family, he has to often shell out from his own pockets while commuting during investigations or even while managing an emergency. A traffic police constable from east division said, “When some major accident takes place, traffic will be jammed because the stricken vehicle is left at the spot. The police inspectors ask us to procure heavy vehicles or cranes to move the vehicle out of the way to enable smooth flow of traffic."
"But when we call the cranes they ask us to pay at least the fuel money. In such situations we are forced to collect money by catching motorists who will not be carrying some or the other document as we don’t have any money to pay. In most cases, the motorists plead not to be booked, and we let them go by taking Rs100-200,” the constable added.
He said this gives an impression of constables harassing motorists out of trying to manage a desperate situation. In the bargain, the image of the police constable (or even the police force) takes a beating. This significantly lowers the police morale by labelling them as the most corrupt among the rank and file of the police force—only because the police constable’s deeds are directly witnessed by the citizens.
Constables DNA spoke to said the meagre salaries are compounded by senior police officials siphoning at least 50% off the travel money that they claim after travelling to a far location for investigations.
An assistant sub-inspector told DNA that constables do “take” money, but senior officials take “much more”, away from public view. “What we earn in bribes is almost entirely spent on paying informers,” he said. “But officers of police inspector rank and above— up till the police top brass—get money from the illegal activities that are allowed to continue like gambling, wines stores/pubs beyond closing time, live bands and brothels. And they don’t have to spend those amounts as they spend most of the time in their chambers. And they are also given all the facilities like vehicles, men to work for them etc.”
Ex-top cop speaks
Retired DGP of Karnataka L Revannasiddaiah says: Every one, from top to bottom, is making money. Only thing is that a police constable feels morally happier as he takes less money than others. It all starts from politicians who take money from bureaucrats. If a lower rank official is taking money, he has to share it with his superiors."
"Money is taken in everything, including in registering a case or providing protection to a person who faces a threat. But even people encourage this corruption. For example, a theatre owner presents a free ticket to a police constable when he goes to watch a movie because everyone in society wants to be ‘friends’ with the cops."
"During our period, corruption was limited to exploitation between police and public, but now it has reached levels at which even senior officials are taking money from their subordinates. In that case, what kind of morals can you expect?”