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Polls only a week away, 60% cops down with conjunctivitis & other ailments

India on 09 October 2014
Location : Maharashtra | Source : Times of India. Image Source: Times of India

Round-the-clock bandobast duty for more than a month has taken its toll on the city's police force, most of whom have been laid low by various health problems. Worse, the overstretched cops have barely managed to tide over the festive season and are already staring at the busier and more tension-ridden phase of elections.

In fact, while 60% of Mumbai Police has been afflicted by weather-related diseases, the force will have no respite till Diwali, bandobast for which will start right after the elections.

Senior officers across police stations said there are reports of conjunctivitis and fever almost every day from their personnel, but they have to report for work in that condition. "Sixty percent of personnel at all ranks are down with different kinds of health problems due to the tough duty hours, and there is no leave till the election ends. For the last month-and-a-half, cops are on continuous duty with no leaves," said a Powai cop.

Almost all personnel—right from the constabulary to officers—are on medication in order to report for work every day. All leaves were cancelled till the October 19, when the elections will end, so no one has been able to take sick leave. "The conditions are worsening every day but police personnel fear departmental action if they request sick leave," a deputy commissioner of police told TOI.

A Ghatkopar cop said the drastic weather fluctuations were taking a toll on the health of most personnel who had to stand for several hours on the road for bandobast duty. "The most common illnesses reported so far are conjunctivitis, fever and respiratory ailments, besides common health issues like diabetes, blood pressure and cardiac problems," he said.

A senior police officer from Navghar police in Mulund east said work pressure had claimed three cops in the last two weeks. Deonar senior inspector Manohar Vichare died of cardiac arrest, Govandi senior inspector B Rane, who was transferred to east control room, died of cancer, while 31-year-old Kiran Patil of LT Marg police station succumbed to dengue on October 2.

A Deonar policeman said the worst duty hours for cops in the eastern suburbs was the bandobast duty at the abattoir. "The bandobast here has to be done in between more than 1.75 lakh goats. Total 10,000 personnel are working round the clock. Besides, there is the other bandobast duty without any leave during festivals, which never end, as one starts where the other finishes," said a policeman from Chembur police station.

A Dadar cop said every police station has several officers and constables who are down with either conjunctivitis or some respiratory ailment. "We are praying things get better or there will be a huge problem in the coming weeks as many will be hospitalized and the staff shortage will directly impact the remaining cops," the officer said.

Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni said the department holds regular meetings and talks every day with senior inspectors of all police stations. "Regular meetings are also held providing tips on how to stay healthy by regular exercise and following a proper diet. The work is demanding because we are here to protect the people in the city from all anti-social elements. We all know the duty hours while joining the force, so we can't complain about them," said Kulkarni.

He said during festivals and other important dates, leaves are cancelled. But personnel are relieved after working for 12 hours. Also, policemen are given medical treatment under the Kutumb Arogya Yojana scheme, which is provided under the Police Welfare Scheme.

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