Mumbai: Come rain or shine, policemen are expected to keep us safe, weathering the weather. But, while it's been drizzling intermittently in the city for the past two months, the police chief is in no mood to cut his personnel some slack.
In fact, Dr Satyapal Singh has dealt out a directive, henceforth prohibiting the use of umbrellas by cops. The men and women in khaki are to only make do with raincoats while braving the deluge.
As per the written order, circulated in 93 police stations across the city yesterday, no cop should use an umbrella while patrolling the streets.
Though the notice has not specified a reason, officials from the department said that this was aimed at ensuring that the personnel keep their hands free when on duty.
"With increasing instances of street crimes, it is of utmost importance that a patrolling policeman remains attentive at all times. If he is carrying an umbrella in one hand, and a lathi or walkie-talkie in the other, how will he act promptly in case he spots a crime in progress?" asked a senior officer from the commissionerate.
"Raincoats are very easy to manoeuvre and they are more useful for our constables when compared to umbrellas," said deputy commissioner (crime branch), Satyanarayan Choudhary, also the official spokesperson for Mumbai police.
There have been incidents where miscreants have managed to flee with constables unable to pursue them in a downpour. "Chain snatchers in particular take advantage of the sporadic showers and take flight with valuables, and if the policemen are not carrying raincoats, they are either unable, or unwilling, to give chase," said another officer, on condition of anonymity.
But the personnel in the lower echelons have a different narrative.
"We were last supplied raincoats by the department in 2010. It has also been ordered that the outfit be in yellow and have 'Mumbai Police' scribbled on the back. They hand out raincoats once in three years, and the quality is very poor," said a constable attached with the traffic division.
Adding to this, another police officer from the eastern suburbs said, "Forget about raincoats, the government is not even consistent in paying for our daily-use uniforms."