Millennium Post

Failing to keep fit

Yes it’s true that almost one-third of Delhi police officials are physically unfit for policing. In the past few years, because of a lax regime, no officer has been put under suspension or punished for not keeping fit.

You must have noticed police officials with fat tummies, wearing spectacles but the top brass of Delhi police tend to ignore their obnoxious lack of physical fitness. When Millennium Post tried to unearth the reason behind this indifference, it was shocked to learn that after recruiting cops, the police department does not have any provision of constantly monitoring their physical condition.
The recruitment to Delhi police services is done by a Recruitment Board appointed by the commissioner of police. They are required to appear for a physical examination, a written test and followed by an interview.

The eligibility criteria to join Delhi police for the rank of a constable are as follows: he should be between 18 to 21 years of age and have a minimum height of 170 centimeters. His chest should measure between 81-85 centimeters and education qualification should at least be metric or higher secondary. As far as physical standards are concerned, the willing candidate must have a sound state of health free of any defect, deformity or disease. His vision must be 6/12 without glasses in both eyes,  with freedom from the perils of colour blindenss.

‘During physical examination, if a person suffers from high or low blood pressure due to anxiety caused by having to appear in the examination, he gets rejected. However, that rejection is temporary and the candidate is asked to re-appear for the test,’ a police official said, while describing the minute observation made during the selection.

But as soon as these candidates, hailing from various parts of the country join the services, they become careless about maintaining the required level of fitness. It has been reported that due to long duty hours, several police officials suffer from insomnia and depression. As a result they start consuming alcohol and later become addicted to it.

Many of these policemen face serious risks of cardiac illnesses, diabetes, hypertension, giddiness, gastritis and constipation. As there is no annual test to measure the fitness of police officials, these suspected diseases become serious health issues in their personal lives. ‘Shortage of police staff results in harder and longer work hours for the recruited cops, which badly affects their family lives,’ a police official said.

Case in point is the recent incident in which a 47-year-old Delhi police constable Subhash Tomar died due to a cardiac arrest, while being on duty. He was running behind the protesters during demonstrations at Vijay Chowk, Rajpath and India Gate demanding justice for the Nirbhaya gang rape case.

Speaking to Millennium Post, a senior police official said due to long duty hours and too much stress, the policemen fail to do regular exercise. Also no gym equipment is available at the police stations that could help  officials utilise their free time exercising. No sports activity is encouraged for them either.

Surprisingly, there is an annual fitness test of the police officials in ranks above assistant commissioner of police (ACP) including deputy police commissioner, additional commissioner of police, joint commissioner and so on. Yet no fitness test is meant for the policemen who devote maximum hours of their prescribed duty on the field.

Usually a police official gets promoted to higher ranks on the basis of seniority, since there is a provision of getting promoted after completing the mandatory years in service. For example, if a constable who is willing to become head constable would need a minimum five years of experience and must qualify past a physical examination.

‘As most policemen are unfit, they routinely fail the physical examination and do not get promoted. They serve as constables for around 15-20 years and then get promotion based on seniority,’ an official said.

After promotions, cops have to under go three-month training programme that includes mental and physical overhaul. ‘There is a three-month residential programme for the policemen who are considered for promotion. For every promotional level, there are different schools – lower school (promotion to head constable), intermediate school (for promotion from head constable to assistant sub inspector) and upper school (ASI to sub inspector),’ SN Shrivastava, special commissioner of police (training), said.

‘There are around 85,000 policemen in Delhi police who must undergo compulsory annual fitness test and if he repeatedly fails to clear the test, his pay should be slashed,’ an official requesting anonymity said. ‘Most of the officials are overweight who must undergo running tests to ensure that they could chase a criminal if needed. Strength test that includes pushing a 34 kg weight and pulling a 35 kg weight must be made compulsory,’ he added.

Free health checkup camps for policemen are being conducted across the 11 districts but due to hectic schedule of the cops, they fail to turn up for the free checkups. In these camps, Shrivastava added, after health screenings, doctors prescribe the cops medicines. Counselling – about maintaining good hygiene, doing regular exercise, sticking to diet chart – is also done.
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