Friday, March 5, 2010

They get their man!

This is truly an image from another era; maybe even forty years ago, the sight of policemen on horseback would have been enough to deter a miscreant in the mob. Their vantage point, looking over the heads and shoulders of people in a crowd, would have helped them spot suspicious characters from a distance; a policeman on foot, or even from a prowl car, would not have had that advantage which comes from sitting tall in the saddle.

There is no predicting how much longer we can get to see the Mounted branch of the Chennai Metropolitan Police in action. Even as far back as 1860, the Police Commission Report stated that the "mounted bodies are exceedingly expensive" and that they were "more lawless" and "less amenable to control" than foot constabulary. Though that report also conceded that a mounted force is useful, for instance, to "check large Organized bodies of lawless marauders", it argued that the existing "Establishments of Horse placed on the lowest scale in regard to numbers". The police force of Bombay disbanded their Mounted Branch in the 1930s (though they're thinking of bringing them back, now); the Delhi Mounted Police, on the other hand, was set up in the 1930s. With a sanctioned strength of 95 mounts, they could have been the leaders, but they have only 62 horses on the street and thus fall behind Kolkata Mounted Police, which has 67 - and a history going back to the 1840s. Chennai can probably run Kolkata close in the history, but is far behind in horses - Chennai's force has only about 32 currently. The good thing is, that number has been holding steady for some years now, while Coimbatore and Trichy have had their mounted branches being eroded completely within the past 3 years - and Madurai is barely holding on, with just 4 mounts.

It may be archaic, but these policemen on horses seem to mean business far more than constables sitting an chatting in one of the prowl cars!


Jefferis Evans D'Angelis said...

I like this article!! congratulations, from Santiago de Chile Jeff Evans D'Angelis

Shantaram said...

@ Jefferis: Thank you!