A community policing model developed by the Osmanabad police is proving to be a success story in the district in making people adhere to the containment rules and other norms in place to check the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Under the Osmanabad police’s community policing model, one cop has been assigned to every village in the district along with a team of volunteers, who ensure that social distancing norms are being followed besides acting as eyes, ears and helping hands of authorities for all Covid-19 released duties.
Since the last one and a half months, the Osmanabad district police have been implementing two initiatives – Ek Gaon Ek Police (one village one cop) and Anti Corona Corps of the village volunteers – which have now developed into a community policing centric model in the fight against Covid-19. Osmanabad district in Marathwada region of Maharashtra has 90 per cent rural areas with around 750 villages. As part of the Ek Gaon Ek Police initiative, a police constable or official has been assigned to each village.
Raj Tilak Roushan, Superintendent of Police of Osmanabad, said, “The cop assigned to a village as part of the initiative has some basic responsibilities: Keep updates about the Covid positive and quarantined persons in the village, verify if anyone is coming to the village without requisite permissions, making sure that all the prohibitory orders are followed by the villagers. These police personnel primarily act as a link between villagers, gram panchayats, administration, health department and all other entities involved in the fight against Covid-19. The idea is to increase outreach of police to each of the villages. These cops visit the village on a daily basis.”
Osmanabad police has a strength of close to 2,000 personnel and officers and the district has 750 villages. Along with one cop being assigned to each village in the rural area, a cop has also been assigned to wards in the urban areas to shoulder the same set of responsibilities. Officials said the village outreach duty is in addition to their routine policing duties.
The Osmanabad police have parallelly launched a people participatory initiative called the Anti Corona Corps, as part of which, a force of 8,000 volunteers from 750 villages are working in close coordination with the police. “The idea behind Anti Corona Corps is to build a team of 10 volunteers each from every village, who will help police in check point duties, collecting information if there are gatherings happening where distancing norms are being violated, taking updates of the home quarantined persons. We have seen that involving people directly in the fight against Covid-19, there is a sense of belonging among them towards these efforts. The Ek Gaon Ek Police and Anti Corona Corps initiatives perfectly compliment each other and we have seen a development of community policing model in the fight against Covid-19. Assigned cop in each village closely works with the volunteers. All these efforts are closely monitored by officers at police stations and sub-divisional level,” said Roushan.
Osmanabad district has till now reported over 550 cases, of which close to 200 are active as on Wednesday. Officials said in the recent past, cases have also been detected in many villages, which subsequently had to be declared containment zones. The volunteers and cops assigned to villages have played a key role in making sure that containment zone norms are followed, said an official.
Pritesh Barkul, a volunteer from Yermala village in Kalamb taluka of the district, said, “We are a group of around 20 youngsters from the village, who work in shifts at checkpoints and do other assigned tasks. In the same way, each village has at least 10 volunteers. We have been given masks, sanitisers, mosquito repellents and T-shirts identifying us as volunteers. We have not only learnt a lot about duties of the police, but have also come to understand the difficult situations they face – right from dealing with all types of weather conditions to all types of people.”
Constable Pandurang Fulsundar, assigned to Gunjawati village in Umarga taluka, said, “Without these volunteers, it would have been impossible to reach out and understand various issues faced by the people and get updates about anything happening in connection with Covid-19 spread. These volunteers are like our eyes and ears on the ground and undoubtedly helping hands as well.”
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