Updated: March 17, 2021 10:41:01 am
Nearly eight per cent of the Punjab’s police force got infected with the novel coronavirus since the pandemic outbreak in March last year. Punjab had reported its first Covid-19 positive patient — a Hoshiarpur resident who had returned from Italy — on March 9 last year and had recorded its first fatality due to the infection on March 19 — a person who had arrived from Germany via Italy on March 7.
In just over a year since after the first case, 6,396 Punjab Police personnel — 7.8 per cent of the 82,000-strong force — have tested positive, of which 6,139 recovered and 56 lost their lives. Currently, there are 201 active cases in the Punjab Police.
In 2021, the force has seen six deaths with two of them in January and four in March, the month when state has recorded a sharp surge in cases, which health experts have termed as second wave. Those who died this month include DSP (Shahkot) Varinderpal Singh, and ASIs Naib Singh (Bathinda), Sarabjit Singh (Batala) and Joginder Ram (SBS Nagar).
However, even as the overall response to the ongoing vaccination drive hasn’t been overwhelming, the Punjab Police has put up a better show with 61 per cent of the force (50,900) inoculated with the first dose, as per the data compiled till Tuesday. Nearly 6,600 personnel (8 per cent) have also received the second dose. The police personnel are being vaccinated as frontline workers in the second leg of the first of the vaccination drive that began on February 2.
Of the total 56 personnel that the force lost to the coronavirus, two were gazetted officers – Anil Kohli (ACP, Ludhiana north) and Varinderpal Singh (DSP Shahkot), both aged 52. As per the rank-wise figures of the staff who died due to Covid-19, the majority 31 were assistant sub-inspectors (ASIs), followed by Punjab Home Guards (six), sub-inspectors (four), head constables (three), constables (seven), gazetted officers (two), Class-IV staff (two) and one from ministerial staff.
As per the age-wise data, the majority 32 victims were aged 50 or above, 20 were in the age group 49-40 and two were in their thirties, shows the data analysis. Jalandhar rural police saw maximum four fatalities, followed by three each from Kapurthala, Patiala, Bathinda, and Amritsar city police and three from India Reserve Battalion (IRB), reveals the data. Two each died from several other police districts including Ludhiana city, Fatehgarh Sahib, Muktsar, Ferozepur, Batala, and two from CM’s security team.
The police district wise data further reveals that the maximum 421 policemen from Ludhiana city police got infected, followed by Patiala Police (326), Ferozepur (310), Sangrur (302), Amritsar city (252), Jalandhar city (243), Bathinda (237), Mansa (222), Jalandhar rural and Faridkot (205 each), Fazilka (167), Hoshiarpur (168), Kapurthala (157), Batala (150), Ludhiana rural (147), SBS Nagar (141), Mohali (140), Gurdaspur (146), Muktsar (138) Fatehgarh Sahib (130), Tarn Taran (119), Pathankot (116), Barnala and Ropar police (112 each), Moga (100) and Khanna (53).
Among the special wings of Punjab Police and other forces posted in Punjab, most Covid-19 positive have been reported by Punjab Armed Police (319), followed by IRB (258), intelligence wing (270), anti-drug special task force (56), Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur (120), Commandos (89), Special Protection Unit (96), Bureau of Investigation (55), vigilance bureau (22), Central Police Office/DGP office (82) among others.
AIG Jasbir Singh, state officer to the DGP, said that in most cases where staff from Punjab Police have died due to Covid-19, they were comorbid and majority of the victims were above 50 years of age. “In most cases, there were co-morbidities such as hypertension, liver and kidney issues and diabetes. Police force is also a part of the society and going by the general trend as for the civilians, most cops dying suffer from other health conditions too.”
According to the Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoH&FW), after Maharashtra, maximum daily Covid casualties are being reported in Punjab. The two states are also adding maximum caseload on daily basis. AIG Jasbir Singh said, “As per a book ‘True Grit’ that has been published by the Maharashtra Police on Covid management, 296 policemen from their force have died due to Covid and more than 27,000 have been infected. Theirs is a bigger force. We have already conducted at least three rounds of testing for entire force and it is still ongoing.”
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