Eight out of every 10 head constables in Uttar Pradesh are ‘missing’. But, there is no need do be alarmed about that. For, it is not as if they are not reporting for duty. The fact is that they have not been appointed as yet.
The UP Police, the largest police force in the world under a single command, is facing a huge staff shortage. The shortage of head constables is the most acute.
While there are 49,290 posts of head constables, only 8,859 are actually in service, translating into a shortage of as high as 82%.
The shortage of inspectors is 73%. The corresponding figure at the sub-inspector level is 57% and at the constable level this shortfall stands at 54%.
The total strength of the civil police in UP should be 2.96 lakh while the actual serving force stands at 1.28 lakh which means an overall shortage of 43%. These figures have been revealed in a detailed internal report recently prepared by the UP Police.
“Such a huge shortage of force definitely strains the force and affects the law and order situation,” says Additional DG (law and order) Arun Kumar. He points out that the national average of policemen per lakh population is 130 which is much lower than even in Pakistan (207) and Sri Lanka (438).
“What’s worse is that this figure in UP is a mere 74 policemen per lakh population which is indeed pathetic considering the size and population of the state. In this regard, we are better only than Bihar which has 63 policemen per lakh population,” he asserts.
A senior police officer, not wanting to be named, says despite the severe shortage, a large section of the police force is used for ‘VIP duty’. “Every VIP wants a bunch of gun-toting policemen around him. Most of the time, it is not due to threat perception or for security purposes but as a status symbol,” he remarks.
Also, it’s not only as if the shortage is limited to the lower levels of the force. The UP Police has 489 sanctioned posts for IPS officers but at present only 382 officers are functioning, meaning a shortfall of one IPS officer for every five posts.
“It is indeed ironical that such a shortage has been existing for a long time even though law and order seems to be the state’s biggest problem,” says former DGP H Rao. He says successive governments have failed to take up the acute shortage in the police force with the seriousness it deserved.
“Law and order is not a political but clearly an administrative problem,” he asserts adding that having a trained and adequate force is the only remedy.
The UP Police report on the state of the force notes with concern that policemen are required to function 24x7 round the year. Not getting leave, lack of rest, and shortage of promotional avenues and resources add up to a negative working atmosphere fuelling tension and dissatisfaction among the men in uniform.