“You need to be physically strong and capable. Do not grow potbellies like us," Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Tuesday to the police forces of the state.
This piece of advice was given to 52 members of the Karnataka State Reserve Police, who had completed a bicycle tour of the state across 28 districts. Although the statement was reportedly made on a lighter tone, it has started a discussion over the need for police personnel to maintain their fitness.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Praveen Sood said that although there is a need for the police force to pay attention to their fitness level, it was up to the personnel to take a call.
“The department cannot bear pressure on them to maintain their fitness as they have hectic schedules,” he was quoted as saying.
Notably, this is not the first time the fitness level of policemen is coming under observation in the country. Police force in many states have previously been commented upon their fitness, or rather, the lack of it.
In April this year, the Bihar government amended the police manual to lay more emphasis on fitness level over educational qualification, while recruiting new police constables. This move came after the state's CM Nitish Kumar raised the issue of lack of fitness of policemen at multiple venues.
Prior to this in January, the High Court had asked the Kolkata police to submit a report on the physical and mental fitness of its force. The HC's order came following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a retired army jawan. In his PIL, the petitioner reportedly submitted photographs of potbellied policemen, and even some of them dozing off while at work to argue his case.