In a city crawling with politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats and people who 'know' them, being a Delhi Police constable is a tough and thankless job.
With 362 policemen per one lakh population against the national average of 133, the police force is stretched thin. HT decided to follow two constables on their beat in Sarita Vihar to document the trials and tribulations they face.
With duty hours changing almost daily, from 12 hour to 24-hour shifts, policemen lead nomadic lives.
Most spend a majority of time away from their families. But Constable Dharam Singh seems content. "I get a decent salary, with which I have educated all my kids to the post-graduate level," he said.
His day begins at 9am with a daily briefing at the police station with senior officers. The post-meeting ritual involves a cup of tea before leaving for his beat with fellow constable Ramesh Pratap.Their first stop is a car workshop. "We have to meet people from all walks of life every day — housing complex's guards, school authorities, senior citizens, property dealers, car mechanics etc," said Singh. In all, they walk close to 12 kilometres every day albeit with numerous tea breaks.
Far from being a crime-fighting pair like Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour movies, their job is rather mundane.
Serving court summons, verifying new tenants and domestic help, it ranges from the administrative to the sometimes mind-numbingly repetitive.
The public image of a beat constable is a moustachioed potbellied corrupt man.
Singh and Pratap say these are broad stereotypes. Phrases such as 'a few bad apples' and 'policemen are not corrupt' are thrown in the air.
Anand Kumar, another constable, is more candid. "When an incident occurs, no one wants to go to court. The parties involved prefer ending the case there itself," he confessed.
“People abuse us many times even if we do good things,” said Singh. “We just take it.”
"The police makes some money, usse hamara guzaara ho jaata hai" he added.
In the dusty bylanes of Sarita Vihar, we ask them why they continue to do this job.
"We do it for the public and the nation."
(All names have been changed)