AS country is witnessing exodus of migrant workers following lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak, the Aurangabad Rural Police is using the community policing methods coupled with drone technology to trace the groups trying to migrate out of the district and subsequently help them settle down in shelter homes.
According to officials, the Aurangabad Rural Police jurisdiction – which is majority of rural and semi-urban parts of the district, except Aurangabad city – has an estimated 7,200 migrant workers. Most of these workers come from north Indian states or other districts of Marathwada region of Maharashtra. These labourers are mainly employed in agriculture sector, road and building construction, and industrial manufacturing units. After the announcement of lockdown and closure of their work, these labourers were left in lurch and many even started heading back to their native places.
The district administration started earmarking large spaces as shelter homes for the homeless and also made available ration. However, stopping the outflow of the migrants was a key challenge. Speaking to The Indian Express, Superintendent of Police for Aurangabad Rural, Mokshada Patil, said, “We were already using the drones for monitoring activities of people during the lockdown. We observed a large scale violations of social distancing in market area. But there was also the issue of groups of migrant workers wanting to leave the district. Our officers and staff at police station and police sub-division level started collating information about the places where groups of migrant labourers live and are employed. We then employed basic policing work of local intelligence units coupled with drone surveillance to track the movement of the migrant families.”
Patil added, “There are cases where people used small odd routes, off the main roads, to avoid being stopped. In some cases illegal modes of transport were used. With local information and drone surveillance we could track such movements and stop the migration… We convinced them to stay back, make them understand the risks in travel to their native places. The district administration had already made arrangements for their shelter and ration, we simply helped people reach there. Subsequently, among other things, we observed that there are many children with the families in these shelters. We have made arrangements for cricket and football.”
Initiative has also helped Aurangabad police in stopping influx of people in some cases into the district. According to an official, they could anticipate people coming to the district from neighbouring Jalgaon district, where a person was found COVID-19 positive, and stopped the migration in time. The district borders in Maharashtra remain closed post lockdown, except for the emergency and essential services.
The Aurangabad Rural Police has also relocated around 40 boys from Bihar, who were studying in madrassa in Chikhalthana area and were trying to go back home after the lockdown was announced. Officials said as madrassa closed, and local children were sent home, those 40 boys decided to hitchhike and go back home. However, police teams stopped them. “We counselled the boys about coronavirus and also helped them make video calls to their families back in Bihar,” Patil said.
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