November 4: In a throwback to the age of British rule, constables of the Indian police force in a few districts of Andhra Pradesh, might go back to wearing knickers.
No, it’s not nostalgia for the uniforms of the colonial period. Neither is it a matter of airing the legs in the intense Andhra heat. It appears that the state police force is short of uniform cloth to make trousers for the constables.
The constables are not happy at this turn of events.
Coming from the four districts of Ranga Reddy, Nizamabad, Anantapur, Kurnool and Cuddapah, they say that the cloth that is being supplied to them by the department is sufficient only for stitching half-pants.
A report in the Deccan Chronicle quotes the police personnel as saying that while the actual requirement for making a pair of full-pants is three metres, they are given only 2.6 metres of khaki cloth.
They also add that despite a good quality material existing in the market, the cloth that is supplied to them is deliberately poor.
The Andhra Pradesh police force is 79,000 strong and requires 2.37 lakh of khaki material, the cloth that the Indian police drapes itself in. But the actual supply is just 2.02 lakh metre. This means there is a shortfall of 34,600 metres.
That’s not all. The constables, who are in full emotional flow at the thought of being forced to bear their legs, are now willing to bare their hearts, too. And the biggest complaint is that none of the things they are supposed to get from the central police stores, ever reaches them – be it stationery, kerosene lanterns, petromax lights or torch lights, coats, blankets or mosquito curtains…
So instead of the standardised Cherry Blossom shoe polish, they get the obscure Chiri brand. By the time Chiri reaches them, it is no longer fit for their shoes, but is ready to be thrown into the dustbin, the constables add.
The only things that come to them are articles like belts, shoes, socks and lathis – and coats of a uniformly bad quality, they say.
As usual the authorities have a different story to tell. The Central Police Stores District Superintendent ( DSP ) claims that the cloth being supplied to the constables is sufficient for their needs.
The Inspector General of Police admits, however, that the previous stocks of woolen socks, shoes and jerseys, were of poor quality. He has promised that the best material would be bought from now on.
But the constables are not buying the story. They no longer want the uniforms to be stitched at the police tailoring centres. Give us the money for the tailoring charge (Rs 80) and we shall get our uniforms stitched, they say.
Knowing that the hands of law are very long the constables are afraid of those hands reaching out to spirit away bits and pieces from their uniform cloth, and make shorts out of trousers. That is the long and short of their story. And therein lies the story of the police forces in our country.