Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Sunday that the state police had suffered the most casualties in the Covid-19 fight in the state. Around 3,000 police personnel in the state have till now tested positive and over 30 have lost their lives, he added.
Deshmukh also attacked the central government saying that it has not spent even “a single paisa” on the homeward journeys of migrant labourers.
On a visit to Pune, Deshmukh reviewed the law and order situation in various police jurisdictions in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. He was briefed by senior officers from Pune City, Pimpri Chinchwad and Pune Rural police jurisdictions about various measures taken by them for maintaining law and order during the lockdown and steps taken for making the journeys of the students and migrant labourers stranded in Pune safe.
During his interaction with the media, Deshmukh said, “Till now around 3,000 police personnel, including officers and constables, have tested positive for coronavirus. Over 30 deaths have been reported till now. It is unfortunate that police have suffered the most casualties among those fighting the battle against the disease. Police force has held its ground for around three months while being deployed at isolation facilities, quarantine wards, hospitals, at checkpoints or in any other duty.”
“And because they have been doing these frontline duties, the number of infections is also high. As a precautionary measure, around 23,000 police personnel aged between 50 and 55 are being given low-risk police station tasks while 12,000 more who are above 55 have been asked to stay home while their salaries are being paid. In every district we have started dedicated hospitals for any health-related complaint of police personnel. We are ensuring that they get the best treatment,” he said.
The Indian Express had reported that Covid-19 infection in the police crossed the 2,000-mark on May 28. Since over a week now, the Maharashtra police headquarters has stopped releasing the number of total Covid-19 positive cases among the police force. Now, it is only releasing the number of active cases and deaths among the two lakh-strong Maharashtra police force.
As per the numbers released on Sunday morning, there are 1,497 active cases in the police force and 33 deaths. Majority of these cases are either local police personnel from Mumbai, its surrounding areas and Nashik district’s Malegaon city or personnel of the Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) deployed in these high-risk areas who were later repatriated to their home units. The cases among the police force started getting reported in the second week of April. On May 6, the count reached 500 and crossed 1,000 on May 14.
On migrant labourers, Deshmukh said, “Till now around 12 lakh migrant labourers have been sent to their home states. Around 5 lakh more were dropped till the border of their states by our state transport buses. Railway administration announced that it will bear 85 per cent cost of the trips of migrant labourers to home states. Having repeated this time and again, including statement made by (Union Finance Minister) Nirmala Sitharaman, the central government has not spent a single paisa for the homeward journeys of these labourers. The state spent around Rs 100 crore from the CM relief fund for this exercise. We have made all the arrangements including food for these people. They have praised Maharashtra upon going back to their home states.”
Deshmukh also informed that till now 31 temporary prisons have been designated in 24 districts across Maharashtra. He said that 9,600 prisoners have been released so far from jails across Maharashtra against the target set by the government to release 17,000 prisoners.
During his visit, Deshmukh interacted with frontline Covid workers, including police, doctors, health staff, representatives from NGOs and citizen volunteers working with police who have been designated as ‘Special Police Officers’. Officials said that in his discussions with senior officers from all three jurisdictions, Deshmukh instructed them to take stringent action against those spreading rumours and hate messages. Deshmukh also unveiled findings of a survey conducted by Pune police, in which questions were asked about various issues faced by the citizens during the lockdown.
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