Punjab's policemen are known for throwing their weight around but the determination of a young cop is making sure that the force in his district sheds some weight - and in a novel way too.
Personnel of all ranks in Bathinda police have been dancing to the tunes of the bhangra - Punjab's traditional dance during celebrations - and in just two weeks the results speak for themselves - the force has collectively lost over 500 kg.
The initiative for this form of exercise came from Bathinda's senior superintendent of police (SSP) Naunihal Singh. The young Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, posted here in June this year, became quite concerned on seeing the waistlines and potbellies of the men under his command.
"I thought we needed to do something innovative to check this. In just two weeks, we have collectively lost 500 kilos," Singh says with satisfaction.
The idea behind the bhangra exercise is to transform the 1,800-strong police constabulary into a fighting fit force in this south Punjab district.
Police officials say not only was the force looking completely out of shape but the extra fat was causing too many health problems for the men in khaki - ranging from diabetes, hypertension and sleep disorders to breathing problems. Singh has even taken the initiative of announcing the 'Bathinda Police Fitness Challenge 2007-08' for the personnel to motivate them to get into shape quickly.
The personnel have been divided into groups of 22 each. The minimum collective weight loss of each group will have to be 100 kg. The highest weight shedder will take away prizes. For those not falling in line, penalties will be in store.
The district police chief, during one of his recent field visits, ordered police control room (PCR) motorcycle riders to demonstrate push-ups at their duty spot.
For some Bathinda residents, the bhangra-drill of the policemen - done for one hour every morning at the police lines complex with foot-tapping music - is itself quite amusing.
The cops, who used to instil fear in the minds of people, are now forced to dance despite the presence of onlookers who flock to the police lines complex to amuse themselves. The one-hour drill leaves the pot-bellied cops literally sweating.