One more young aspirant for the post of police constable, Vishal Kedar, 25, of Nasik, died in Platinum Hospital, Mulund, on Friday morning, taking the death toll during the ongoing recuritment drive to three. Two others, Prasad Mali, 25, and Ambadas Sonawane, 27, of Nashik died on Wednesday.
dna has in its possession the operating procedures issued by the office of the director general, dated May 12, 2014, which states that endurance tests should only be conducted before 9.30am or after 4.30pm. But in all cases, tests were conducted in the extreme heat and humidiy after 11am, clearly violating rules.
The exact reasons of death are not known though "reason reserved" is stated in the post-mortem report. The reason could possibly be sudden heart attack resulting from exhaustion. Some police officers have said that the reasons could be the consumption of steriods in the hope of building up stamina and muscles in double quick time.
Death during recrutiment drives are unheard of and three physicaly fit youngsters collapsing and dying while doing the 5-km running test, has shocked the city. The deaths can only be blamed on the callousness of those managing the recruitment tests in four venues across the city and in Navi Mumbai and Thane from June 9 to 19.
At least 1, 20,000 youngsters have applied for the 2,500 posts of constables in the Maharastra police.
One of the main rules for the 5km and 3km run for men and women is that the tests should be conducted before 9.30am and after 4.30pm every day. "This order was issued so that the candidates do not have to run in the scorching sun and are not inconvenienced," said a senior police officer.
But according to candidates, this rule was not followed for the first three days. "We were instructed to assemble at the venue at 6am. But the 5km running test started only after 11am. Till then all candidates were merely waiting on the highway," Vishal Kale who had come to Mumbai all the way from Bhusaval said.
According to the circular, biscuits and bananas should be made available to candidates at subsidised rates. But candidates alleged that no such arrangement was made. "We were forced to pay Rs30 for a bottle of water and fruit vendors charged us exorbitantly," Sagar Kathore from Ahmednagar said.
The DG office in its circular had said that regular announcements should be made over the public address system asking candidates to take proper precautions while running. "No such instructions were issued by the policemen present at the venue," Prashant Indulkar from Tardeo said.
Candidates said they were made to sit in the hot sun for hours together before the endurance tests started. Dr ND Moulick, head of medicine, Sion hospital, said: "Any exercise beyond our routine in such hot and humid weather can lead to heart and blood vessel-related problems. Blood pressure shoots up if a person is not acclimatised to the condition before going for any rigorous exercise."
Moulick said most people taking such tests are not trained. Moreover, they are under stress to get the job. All these can precipitate into a condition like this, he said.
Dr Prafulla Kerkar, head of cardiology, KEM hospital, said: "Medical history should be considered before subjecting a person to a high intensity exercise. The person should also be accustomed to the quantum of exercise. Other health conditions like hypertrophic cardio myopathy can also aggravate the situation."
Doctors said that the possibility of these men taking steroids to boost performance can't be ruled out. "It is possible that these guys were taking substances to boost their performance. But to prove this, urine tests need to be done," Moulick said.
The Mumbai police administration, however, woke up late to the seriousness of the problem. DCP Mahesh Patil said: "We have instructed officers to conduct the running test from 7am to 9:30am and from 4pm to 6pm."
But three youngsters have already paid with their lives due to police mismanagement.
On demand of the opposition, MoS (home) Satej Patil said on the floor of the House that the state government will give monetary compensation to the families of the deceased.
2500: Number of posts (constable) to be filled in Mumbai
1,20,000: Number of applicants
15,000: Number of candidates who appeared in the first three days