Rashi Aditi Ghosh/Zee Research Group
If you thought you are getting safer by the day, you might just be more than optimistic. The truth is that India is generally inadequately policed with ironically the gap being bigger in violence-prone Naxal areas and northeastern states.
According to a Home Ministry report, as against a sanctioned strength of 13,719 new police stations last year so far only 13,614 stations have actually been set up in the country. This has resulted in an overall deficit of 105 police stations. Many of these stations were to come up in the Northeast and the Naxal belt.
The government sanctioned 13,719 new police stations last year and this included the ones being set up in rural and urban areas and under Railways.
Jharkhand’s gap in establishment of new police stations has been the maximum with only 374 police stations set up against the sanctioned 413 stations there. Orissa sanctioned 579 police stations but only 541 got established this year. Manipur sanctioned 80 new police stations but got only 56.
A rural-urban segmentation shows that Manipur had the maximum gap in rural areas and Orissa in the urban belt. As against sanctioned 66 police stations for rural Manipur only 42 have come into existence, while as in case of urban Orissa 169 police stations came up against a sanctioned strength of 204.
The gap between the sanctioned and actually set-up police stations in the country becomes significant in the backdrop of India’s violence graph having only worsened over the decades with the crime rate jumping 253 per cent since 1953.
A senior Home Ministry official who refused to be identified said, “Each state has its independent norms for fulfilment of allocated targets. The funds are sanctioned anyway and it is for the individual state to make use of them. They (states) are accountable.”
Concerned over the inadequate policing, former director general of Border Security Force (BSF) Prakash Singh said, “India suffers from huge scarcity of police officials as per global standards. It’s unfortunate that even after allocation various state governments look least bothered to fill the gap.”
Endorsing Singh’s concern over the policing deficit, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi said, “Need for better policing to check terror attacks takes a back seat when it comes to budget allocation because security here is not seen as an investment. Policing, a state subject, has neither a five year plan nor a fixed budget.”
She lamented the gap in rural areas more. “Urban areas have more police stations because it comes as a compulsion but rural areas have no pressure so they are entirely ignored,” Bedi added.
At one end when the state and the country as a whole are frequently becoming targets of crime and violence, blame game remains as the only answer for the Home Affairs Ministry.