The Covid-19 outbreak has strained the Mumbai Police at a time when its personnel have been asked to step up and help fight it by enforcing rules intended to slow its spread. Over the last four months, over 3,800 policemen have tested positive and 55 have lost their lives due to the pandemic that has added a new level of risk and anxiety to their work.
Amol Kulkarni, (32)
Designation: Assistant Police Inspector of Shahu Nagar police station
Years of service: 8
Kulkarni is the youngest officer of the Mumbai Police to have succumbed to Covid-19. Kulkarni, who hailed from Sangli, had joined the police force in 2012 and served his entire tenure in Mumbai. An avid boxer who was known to take his fitness seriously, Kulkarni had hit the ground and was instrumental in handling the paperwork for the large number of migrants who would show up at the Shahu Nagar police station to register themselves for their rides back to their home states. He had taken over charge of detection at the police station only four months back. It was at his wife’s insistence that Kulkarni got himself tested on May 13. “Six months ago, we learnt that Amol had diabetes and a week before his death, he had abruptly come home from work due to high body temperature and would keep coughing. Later he went for testing at Sion hospital and as his health kept deteriorating, we were trying to admit him but two BMC-run hospitals and a private hospital turned him away as we didn’t have Covid-19 reports,” said his wife Swaranjali. On May 16, Kulkarni collapsed in his bathroom and died before he could be taken to hospital. His Covid positive test result came four hours after he passed away. He is survived by his wife and a three-year-old daughter, who tested positive and were treated at Seven Hills hospital after his demise.
Sohail Shaikh, (41)
Designation: Police Naik at Wadala Truck Terminal police station
Years of service: 21
A native of Ahmednagar, Shaikh had joined the police force in 1999 and had spent most of his career in Mumbai. His latest posting was at the Wadala Truck Terminal police station where he was responsible for driving police vans. Shaikh stayed in a 110 sq ft room at Mandvi police quarters in Pydhonie along with his wife, two children, 42-year-old sister, 63-year-old mother and his brother Tufail. In spite of complaining of fever he continued to work. He finally took a four-day leave on June 2. However, as he continued to feel unwell, he was moved to a hospital. His mother and sister too had to be moved to the hospital. Shaikh tested positive on June 12 and was treated in St George and Gurunanak hospital. During this period his mother and sister died due to the infection. “We decided to hide their deaths from him, because we thought that it would affect his health,” Tufail said. After a 40-day fight for his life Shaikh passed away on July 25 due to cardiac arrest.
Nitesh Deshmukh, (33)
Designation: Police Sub-Inspector of Bangur Nagar police station
Years of service: 13
A native of Latur, Deshmukh had risen through the ranks after having served as a constable in Latur for 11 years. He had moved to Mumbai only in January 2019 and had been posted at Bangur Nagar police station as a sub inspector. A hockey player, Deshmukh had shifted both his wife and daughter back to Latur in May to shield them from the virus. Earlier in March he had also decided to rent a flat on a temporary basis above his residence so that he did not infect his family members. His elder brother Nilesh Deshmukh claims that he is likely to have got infected while performing his daily duty. His initial complaints of weakness and stomach ache were diagnosed as acidity problems by a local doctor. However, on July 11 a drop in his sugar levels led to him being admitted and discharged on the same day. “After seeing his blood report, the doctors said that he may be suffering from cancer as his WBC count was much higher. I had gone to meet a cancer specialist in Dadar on July 15 to get a second opinion but he passed away the next day,” said Nilesh. His test report showed that he was Covid-19 positive.
Sachin Patil, (41)
Designation: Police Sub-Inspector of Vikhroli police station
Years of service: 15
Patil had joined as a constable and was promoted as sub inspector in 2012. His present stint in Mumbai began in 2018 when he was posted at Vikhroli police station. In late June, Patil reported of discomfort and had applied for sick leave. He subsequently tested positive on July 5. His family members claim that he was feeling unwell for some time but he preferred to take over the counter medicines and reported to work. However, when his health deteriorated he was initially admitted in a private hospital at Kalwa. Few days after he was shifted to Gurunanak hospital and on July 9, he was taken to Seven Hill hospital for plasma therapy. Three hours after his admission, Patil passed away. “He was admitted at 3 pm and at 6 pm, he passed away,” said his brother Satish Khabade, adding that although he was never into sports but he would exercise regularly and did not have any comorbidity. Patil’s colleagues at Vikhroli police station fondly remember him as an artist. “For every festival and occasion at our police station, no one besides Patil would make rangoli at the veranda,” said Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Wagh.
Sharad Mane, (44)
Designation: Police Naik of Nirmal Nagar police station (Bandra east)
Years of service: 23
A veteran policeman, Mane had spent his entire professional life in Mumbai. He was into the fourth year of his stint at Nirmal Nagar police station where he served in the detection branch. He first complained of breathlessness and high fever on April 27 after which his wife Aruna took him to a private laboratory in Thane to get him tested. “We initially visited a few physicians who said that he had viral fever. But as his health kept worsening, I took him to a lab. The lab authorities collected his swabs on April 30 but they reverted back only on May 3 after which I rushed him to Seven Hills hospital in Andheri on May 5,” said his wife. This was the first time that he ever got hospitalized, added his wife. “He was also suffering from pneumonia due to which he was in the hospital for over 40 days and whenever I spoke to him over the phone, he seemed depressed,” she said. However, with the help of doctors, she wore a PPE kit and went to meet Mane but by then he was shifted to ventilator support. Mane died on June 15. He is survived by his wife, a 12-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter.
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