A day after a stampede during a police recruitment drive killed one person and injured 11 at Kalina, the Maharashtra police asserted that there was nothing wrong with the recruitment procedure.
Police sources said on Monday that the process was designed to prevent a candidate from applying at multiple centres, which could have been the reason for the stampede. Many candidates file applications at more than one unit, hoping to improve their chances of getting selected.
To stop this, the police designed a system under which all units would accept applications on the same day at the same time.
Officers, however, accepted that this was not a foolproof system and candidates often do make multiple applications.
Monday’s tragedy was believed to have occurred after some candidates, who wanted to apply at other centres too, began rushing towards the counters accepting the forms.
Sources said that a centralised system, by which each candidate could submit only a single form indicating his choice of postings, could have prevented the tragedy.
Officers said one solution was to not allow candidates to leave the application centre for the duration of the drive. “They can be held back on any pretext,” said an officer. “For instance, they can be told their applications are being processed.”
Director-General of Police A.N. Roy said on Tuesday that the system was centralised, in a manner of speaking — the entire recruitment takes place on the same day, at the same time and follows the same guidelines. “The [recruitment drives] are all governed by the same service rules, so the process is centralised. However, hiring has to be done separately by different units,” Roy told Hindustan Times.
Police officers argued against a common board that handled all recruitments. “If I am a superintendent of police, I should have the power to recruit constables for my jurisdiction,” said a senior officer, requesting anonymity. This, he said, would allow residents a better chance of getting jobs near their homes. It would also benefit the police as residents would be better informed of the area and its people.
The officer said the existing procedure is well-designed and takes into account several aspects, including the psychological. “It also tests if a person has suicidal tendencies,” a senior officer associated with designing the process said, on condition of anonymity. He said that if a candidate was found to have a communal bent of mind, he is sent for counselling. “If counselling fails, the candidate is rejected,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, an inquiry into Monday’s stampede has begun.