Bandobast,perhaps the most common policing term,seems to be the bane of city police. It means long duty hours without a break,and no food or proper toilet facilities.
Last month,we had to conduct an anti drink-and-drive campaign from 10 pm to 2 am after the entire days shift. On one such day,after the overnight drive,we had to be on the roads again for bandobast duty at 7 am as a dignitary from the US was arriving. This bandobast went on till 6 pm. Only after that were we be able to go home, says S S Dalvi,senior police inspector at the Goregaon traffic chowkie.
Apart from the stress of regular work,bandobast duty is the major cause of several ailments that policemen suffer from. Be it water-logging due to rains,VIP visits,a morcha or even an IPL match,police personnel are expected to be on bandobast duty at least five days in a week on an average.
This monsoon,the Mumbai police had deployed almost 30 per cent of its 45,000-strong manpower just to supervise jobs like evacuation,patrolling,redirecting traffic and coordinating with various authorities and emergency services. In many cases,even a days leave was not granted to a policeman.
Sometimes,investigations of bigger crimes are also held back because of bandobast duty, said a police officer from Kandivali police station,who was anxiously waiting for three days for his bandobast duties to end so that he could go and nab a criminal from Uttar Pradesh in a double murder case.
Among the leave applications I have received so far this year,most of them are for problems of heart and spine. On bandobast duty for hours together,policemen end up eating food like vada pav sold by vendors. Also,standing for long hours also takes a toll on the spine, says Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 5) Dhananjay Kulkarni.
Shraddha Jadhav,a woman police constable,says it is terrible to stay out on bandobast duties for more than six hours at a stretch without access to bathrooms and other facilities.
During major festivals,even routine crime detection gets delayed as police personnel are diverted for bandobast duties,says a policeman.
Then there are events like IPL matches. For the next five days,I will not have time even to eat as I am busy on bandobast duty at Wankhede stadium for IPL matches, Krishna Prakash,additional commissioner of police (south region),had replied when asked if he could meet an NGO worker.
There are some regions where bandobast is a daily feature. Since Mantralaya and all government installations and institutes are in south Mumbai,bandobast is a daily routine for police personnel at south Mumbai police stations. Duties also get extended every day due to protests at Azad Maidan, says Ravindra Shisve,Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 1).