Constable Suman Kumari, one of the first UT police officer deputed on the frontline, was also the first to get infected with this virus on May 12. Since then, almost 197 police personnel including one IPS officer, four Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP), 37 Assistant Sub Inspectors (ASIs), five sub inspectors, four inspectors, 36 head constables (HCs) and 103 constables have contracted the coronavirus while performing their duty.
SP (HQs) Manoj Kumar Meena said that around 50 per cent of the infected police officers were constables, who were the first to respond to any emergency situation from the containment zones.
People kept in isolation in these zones would often approach the police officers with a wide range of requests, that ranged from supply of medicines and groceries to study material including text books, copies, pens etc. It fell upon the police officers deployed on the ground to provide these essentials to patients and those under containment.
Special coordination rooms were established inside police stations and posts to assist such people. It fell upon police post Bapu Dham Colony (BDC), Sector 26, to coordinate all this and more in the colony that reported over 100 patients at one point during the summers.
Officers deployed there also came to the rescue of people suffering from co-morbidities who needed to visit hospitals for treatment but had no access to transportation.
A positive upshot of this exercise that lasted for over a month was that the locals developed a relationship of trust with officers. For long now, the police had been conducting outreach programmes in this colony and others in order to wean youngsters away from crime but to no avail due to trust deficit. But the coronavirus made residents look at officers as heroes.
SHO, PS 36, Inspector Maninder Singh, said people have now started holding police officers in high esteem. “Recently, we resumed public meetings in our areas. Police officers, who worked for senior citizens during the lockdown and provided them with medicines, and other essentials have earned the respect of the common man.”
Police officers also brought cheer to young and old alike by celebrating their birthdays with cakes and songs during the three-month long lockdown. They also frequently distributed dry ration in slums and rehabilitation colonies.
All this while, they went without leave for all these months. Only pregnant women officers were allowed leave.
What the officers have to say
“I was deputed in Grain Market, Sector 26, when I got infected with the virus. I was very tense but as days passed and I felt stronger. I regained my confidence. My senior officers were also very supportive. I was kept at Sood Dharamshala for 14 days, then at the police hospital, Sector 26, and inside my barrack for another week. I resumed my duty after almost one month. Subsequently, I worked in critical areas including GMCH-32, GMSH-16. This phase taught me so many lessons. I take pride in the fact that I got infected while performing my duty.”
Constable Suman Kumari
“Almost all the staff members of my police station, Sector 26, Bapu Dham police post spent countless days and nights in the field without going to their houses when COVID-19 cases were at the peak. The largest infected area, BDC-26, was under my jurisdiction. All the staff members did their best to serve the people. The best part of our service was to provide books, note pens/pencils, study material to kids, who were forced to stay inside their houses for almost two months. Some of us collected money for the material from our pockets. I am very grateful to all the associations, who provided us material for further distribution.”
Inspector Narinder Patial, SHO of PS 31
“Since the beginning, I was not scared of the virus. I always give priority to my duty. Being in charge of the East division, home to Bapu Dham Colony-26, it was my moral duty to stand with my subordinates in this critical time. I got infected, and with god’s grace, I recovered shortly.’’
DSP Dilsher Singh Chandel
Chandel, who stayed in isolation for two weeks, is looking after the communication wing of the UT police.
Inspector Harinder Singh Sekhon, in charge of the crime branch, who also got infected with the virus, set up quite an example for others. After one and half month of recovering, he won the gold medal in the amateur Mr Olympia 2020 body building competition held at Orlando in the USA on December 16. “This pandemic taught us one thing…the healthy lifestyle is not optional. It is mandatory. That is the only way to survive this virus,” he said.
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