As many as 6,643 women have been appointed as constables in the Bihar police, creating a record of sorts and adding yet another feather to the Nitish Kumar government's cap. The development, however, evoked angry reactions from male applicants, who claimed that women were accorded preferential treatment in physical eligibility tests.
Providing 35 per cent reservation to women in government jobs was one of the key promises listed in the Janata Dal (United)'s manifesto in the run-up to the 2015 state assembly election. True to his word, Mr Kumar fulfilled his promise through an executive notification soon after he formed the government in alliance with the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He also reserved 50 per cent seats for women in panchayat institutions in order to enhance their participation in grassroot politics.
The results began to show in the years to come. When 9,839 constable-level positions opened up last year, few believed that women representation would cross 40 per cent. Surprisingly, a whopping 67.52 per cent of the constables were revealed to have been picked from the female category when the final results were declared this June.
However, complaints cropped up over the manner in which the physical eligibility tests were conducted. Many male aspirants claimed that while they were required to run a distance of one kilometre in less than five minutes to make the cut, women were allowed to complete the same task in six. This alleged disparity resulted in just 8,178 of 26,507 men clearing the test, as opposed to 14,384 of 16,252 women. Consequently, women registered a whopping 88.51% pass percentage in the physical fitness test, they added.
Male candidates, however, were not the only ones raising concerns over this development. Several Bihar police officers have said that recruiting such a high number of women constables could give rise to logistical issues that the administration may not be able to address. "We don't have enough space in our barracks to accommodate such a large number of women constables. Also, there are concerns about deploying them in certain areas that are particularly crime-prone," one of them said.
Mr Kumar had demanded reservations for women in Parliament and state legislative assemblies earlier this year. His move to ban liquor in Bihar was also said to be aimed at alleviating the condition of women in his state.
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