Lucknow: Working for years without a weekly off? That is how it has been for policemen in Uttar Pradesh so far, but their woes could end come June with a new project aimed at ensuring they get a weekly day off and spend time with their families.
Police officers maintain that the absence of a mandatory holiday every week, enjoyed by all other categories of government employees, is one main reason why policemen in the state are seen to be abrasive.
While state government employees enjoy 52 Sundays, 12 second Saturdays and 40 odd gazetted holidays besides other leave, there`s no such luck for policemen.
In Uttar Pradesh, policemen get only 60 days off plus two holidays for Diwali and Holi. They get 30 days of earned leave and 30 days of casual leave; other government employees are entitled to 15 days of casual leave.
All states have different rules. Police in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Delhi, for instance, get weekly day offs, said an official. Also, while other government employees work eight hours a day in the state, an average policeman puts in up to 12 hours daily.
The experiment will begin with the Gomti Nagar police station, which has 72 personnel. To ensure adequate staffing, 12 extra policemen will be posted there, and a similar number will get a weekly off every day.
Designed by Deputy Inspector General of Police Navneet Sikera, the move is aimed at "de-stressing" the policemen, he said.
The new system will initially be implemented for constables, head constables, assistant sub-inspectors and sub-inspectors who get only casual and earned leave every year.
"(We want) a happy turnaround for the distressed and overworked police force," Sikera said.
A senior officer said policemen worked extra hours routinely. For years, there has been no weekly day off in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
As a consequence, both family and professional life suffers.
But the weekly day off comes with a caveat -- the policemen will have to swear on oath that it will be utilised in the company of the family.
Senior officers will randomly obtain feedback from the families of the men on how the day was spent.
"We want our men to be with their loved ones and return to work afresh," said Sikera.
Lucknow Senior Superintendent of Police J Ravinder Gaur said that it was hoped the results would be encouraging and there would be behavioural changes among the policemen.
The pilot project has been tailored by Himanshu Rai, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow, and Sikera.
It was found that while policemen were efficient and cracked even the toughest cases, they suffered from a "stress overload" that manifested in their behaviour vis-a-vis people.
"We are sure this will change the lives of our policemen," Sikera said.
Once the pilot project gets over June 1-Aug 1, senior officers would meet the families of the beneficiaries - and the public - for a review.
If the results are heartening, it will be extended across Lucknow and later across the sprawling state.