As many as 102 police chowkis under Pune City Police will cease being operational for a while as a temporary precautionary measure, Pune City Police Commissioner K Venkatesham said on Wednesday. Nine personnel from the force have tested positive for coronavirus till now.
The 30 police stations, under which the 102 police chowkis function as sub-units, will continue working as points of contact for the public. Police officials have also stressed on meticulous adherence to the drill the personnel have to undertake when they go home after completion of duty every day.
Over 120 personnel and officers from Pune City Police, which includes the entire staff of a police station in central parts of the city, are currently under quarantine. A separate ward for affected policemen has been allocated in a medical facility which is already treating COVID-19 patients, said an official.
Rising infections among on-duty policemen has become a cause of concern for the Maharashtra government as the number of COVID-19 cases in state police force crossed 100 four days ago. The Mumbai Police has already lost three policemen to the infection.
In the city, the first reported case of COVID-19 was on April 17, when a policeman attached to a police station in central Pune and his wife tested positive. Fourteen policemen, who were primary contacts of the constable, were quarantined and their samples were collected, and two of them tested positive on April 20.
Subsequently, the entire staff of the police station was placed under quarantine and as on Wednesday, the station remains closed and its duties have been taken over by an adjacent police station.
On the decision to temporarily suspend operations of over 100 police chowkis, Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham told The Indian Express on Wednesday, “The 102 police chowkis in Pune city will not be operational as of now. They may act as resting places for our staff. People with grievances can approach police stations or call the control room on 100.”
The chowkis in the central part of the city, where a large number of COVID-19 cases have been reported, have already been closed. And those in the rest of the city will follow as soon as possible. Venkatesham further said, “At the police stations that remain functional, much stricter safety measures are being adhered to. A set of guidelines, in addition to those already issued, will be given.”
Pune police have already been following certain norms, such as not assigning any strenuous ground duty, which involved possibility of coming in contact with the public, to police staff with known medical conditions. A pictorial advisory on what steps have to be taken after a police personnel goes home has been issued, and they have been urged to adhere to it. These steps include informing family members prior to reaching home, and asking family members to keep a bucket of water with detergent and one bucket for bath ready. The cop should directly head to the bathroom, soak the used clothes in water and then take a bath.
Over 9,000 personnel and officers of Pune City Police are currently involved in COVID-related duties. Officials said the majority of staff deployed in high-risk environments have already been prescribed immunity-boosting medications.
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