'Alertness can save us, others too'

'Alertness can save us, others too'

Picket duty is laborious job as cops have to stand for 4 to 5 hours on stretch
To passersby, men in khaki look relaxed on a picket duty as it’s their daily ritual, but policemen say they have to be mentally prepared for literally anything and always on alert while carrying out the life-risking job.

“Aaj kal to khud bacho and dusre ko bhi bachao ka zamana hai (These days you have to save yourself and the others too),” says Head Constable Vijender Singh, who is posted with Vivek VIhar police station. “Being alert is the key. If we aren’t alert then we may endanger our life as well as that of others,” he adds.

Though the cops are given special instructions of safety while performing picket duty, the job brings new challenges every day.

“The barricades are often hit by the vehicles, mostly by drivers who are feeling sleepy and partly by those who are drunk,” says Singh, who has been doing picket duty for over 15 years.

Singh came within a hair’s breadth of losing his life while on picket duty at Ghazipur. “The incident took place a few days ago when a truck rammed into one of the barricades put up around 11 pm in Ghazipur. I quickly leapt out of the way,” says Singh. “When we are assigned picket duty, we make up our mind that anything can happen. We have to be mentally prepared for anything and everything,” he adds.

The 48-year-old cop says things have improved over the period of time. “When I was posted at Ghazipur border around four years ago, truck drivers entering Delhi from Mewat in Haryana used to hurl stones at us,” recalls Singh.

“If cops at the picket tried to stop a truck then the persons on the truck would start throwing stones and bricks at the picket. But now things have changed,” he adds.

Things may have changed a little but it still remains a laborious job as a policeman who is assigned picket duty, usually has to stand for four to five hours at a stretch. “When we get a call for checking vehicles, we have do it for four to five hours continuously,” says Singh.

Experience needed

The policeman adds one should have an experienced set of eyes for carrying out the job well.

“We don’t stop cars and  motorcycles randomly. We tend to stop the vehicles driven by youngsters. If we see four guys in a car making loud noises or they look tipsy, we will definitely stop them and ask them to show licence and other vehicle-related papers,” Singh says.

Two-wheeler riders who are asked to make a halt often are in the age bracket between 20 and 25 years, he adds.

“Fast drivers are always stopped with an intention to ask them to drive slowly and responsibly.”

Strength of the plicemen at a picket also plays a huge role. “If there are four policemen at a picket, they manage to check 20 to 30 cars in an hour. And if there are two at a picket, the drivers try to speed away,” Singh says.

“Sometimes when they try to bypass a picket, they ram into the barricades, injuring cops.”

Policemen also have fun at pickets as the defaulters come up with all sorts of excuses to avoid challan. “The most common trick is to pretend to make a phone call to top officers or politicians. When someone doesn’t have proper papers or licence, he will take out his mobile and start dialling a number,” Singh says.

“They ask us to talk to the person on the other side. We tell them that we will talk to them but first you show your licence and other papers. Most of the times there is nobody on the other side,” he says with a smile.

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