A SALUTE TO COVID-19 WARRIORS: THE ROLE OF POLICE OFFICERS

By- Gaargi Tomar

Our everyday world and lives are deeply impacted by the outbreak of novel Coronavirus as it has created a global health crisis.  

On 24 March 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the country at 8 pm on Tuesday and declared a nationwide lockdown for 21 days and Modi Ji told people to stay safe inside their homes for 21 days, warning that if they don’t do so the country would be set back 21 years and families would be destroyed. It was ordered after a 14-hour voluntarily public curfew on 22 March 2020, and these steps were necessary to prevent long term suffering.

COVID-19 has disrupted the environments in which children grow and develop and these disruptions to families, friendships and daily routines can have a negative impact on children’s well-being, development, and protection.

The police in such a crisis has a crucial role to perform. Whether it is to provide support to children in distress or providing temporary shelters for the migration population. The Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) is a major frontline COVID-19 warrior that has to ensure the effective imposition of the lockdown. The police had to ensure obedience from the citizens through repressive control measures.

During these times, there are high chances of child violence and exploitation and to prevent that from happening, UNICEF has developed and announced certain guidelines for police. They have planned to establish a dedicated Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights, saying “The police together with the community can act as a force multiplier to enhance the effectiveness with which they support children during COVID-19”. Because of the nationwide lockdown, the police officers have to comply with the government and other regulatory authorities’ orders because of which they have to stay away from their homes and serve the nation.

Even though they are staying out and are coming in contact with many peoples on a daily basis, these officers are carrying out there with utmost diligence and that too without any Complaint to help the citizens during lockdown, policemen have gone beyond the call of duty, they have to make sure food and rations kits are distributed to the migrant laborers, daily wage worker and those who do not have access to food and supplies. They have also distributed masks, sanitizers, spreading awareness about social distancing and also checking body temperature using thermal guns to managing relief distribution.

 The Railway Protection Force (RPF) and other paramilitary forces like Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)and National Security Guard (NSG)are responsible for ensuring institutional quarantine is adhered to by the travelers. Further, with their demand involvement with the mass population, they are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)has further been providing sanitizers to these migrants. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), is providing COVID-19 protective gear and health care apparatus for those involved in airport duty.

There are also some innovative measures being taken to prevent the spread of disease and spread awareness regarding precautions and safety. Some instances are wearing spiked red helmets shaped like virus. When the lockdown was imposed, police officials were seen walking around the parks with megaphones, sensitizing the crowd about Covid-19. There have also been instances where the police officers have sang motivational songs and patriotic songs appealing citizens to follow the rules and stand by nation in its battle against COVID-19.

The police force, as one of the sentinels of democracy, should be applauded and encouraged for being a crucial interface between the government and the public at this time of national emergency and also these endeavors of the police force in such a situation should not go unrecognized.

Early TV footage have provided scenes where the police was beating the migrant workers who were trying to board city buses to move to their villages because they were not following the social distancing guidelines. Around 3 million police officers around the whole nation have ensured that the vast majority of migrant workers reach their homes without any difficulty or risk to their health.

India has been under lock down since March 25 and confirmed 3,54,000 cases and around 11,903 deaths and while ensuring the safety of other people police officers got infected by the spread of corona virus. Notably, the state of Maharashtra has emerged as the epicentre of the coronavirus spread in India, where the number of cases witnessed a massive spike recently. In Maharashtra, 531 police personnel 480 constable and 51 officers tested positive in the 44 days of the lockdown.

There has been a constant increase in corona virus cases with a vast majority of police personnel testing positive for corona virus. Lodges and guest houses have been converted into quarantine centers as in Mumbai, 469 cops have been tested positive and nearly around 600 officers were put under quarantining centers when found symptomatic.

Besides the police force personnel the officers of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)have also been impacted due to this pandemic. This crisis has resulted into many families losing their loved ones because they were on duties protecting the citizens of the nation.

There have also been guidelines issues by the Mumbai government wherein the police personnel above the age of 55 has been sent on leave to prevent the fatal virus from attacking them. There is still not very much clarity regarding how the infection can affect so many as such a disastrous rate and hence, the authorities are busy in tacking the travel histories of the patients.

Nevertheless, for good measure, some of the policemen’s close contacts were identified and were undergone for testing to ensure trace the virus’s potential contamination route. The policemen other than the patients who were in their contact have also been quarantines to contain the virus from further being spread.

Special measures were also taken especially for the police force. Hydroxychloroquine tablets, multivitamins, and supplements of protein were made available under medical supervision to toughen the immunity system of police employees. Also, special hospitals were designated for police personnel. Also, all COVID hospitals in Mumbai have dedicated beds for Mumbai police personnel. Adequate numbers of PPEs, face mask, hand sanitizers, gloves, and face shields have been provided to all personnel. Amenities like food packets, ration, and hot water flasks, at checkpoints etc. are being provided to all personnel on frontlines duties. Accommodation facilities are also being provided to all police personnel who wish to stay back.

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