October 29, 2020 10:22:31 pm
As per data collated by the Indian Police Foundation (IPF), a Delhi-based multidisciplinary think tank, over 1.5 lakh Covid-19 cases and 913 deaths have been reported among personnel of state police forces and the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) till date. The statistics sound a cautionary note for these policing bodies as they gear up for the festive season and an expected increase in economic activities.
The IPF has created a platform for discussion on strategies and responses of these forces towards the pandemic. As per its data, 1,50,226 Covid cases have been reported among personnel of state police forces and CAPF so far. This comprises nearly 1.87 per cent of the country’s total caseload, which stood at 80.4 lakh cases as of Thursday.
In terms of total Covid positive cases among the personnel, the highest were reported from Maharashtra Police (26,395), followed by Andhra Pradesh Police (13,262) Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) (13,011), Border Security Force (BSF) (12,670), and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) (8,299). The data indicates that the number of cases among police forces of various states is higher than that of the CAPFs, when calculated as a percentage of the total strength.
So far, 900 police personnel and officers have succumbed to the viral infection across the country. The highest number of deaths have been reported from Maharashtra Police (283), Andhra Pradesh Police (101), Karnataka Police (73), CRPF (65), Telangana (44) and BSF (42).
Retired IPS officer N Ramachandran, the president and founder of IPF, told The Indian Express, “The months of August, September and October have seen a steep rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths, in line with the national trend. Among the state police forces and the CAPF, 49 deaths occurred on June 2. It rose to 100 deaths on July 2, 223 on August 4, 459 on September 4, 700 on October 4 and 900 by the end of October. With another festival round the corner and increase in economic activities expected, the exposure of police personnel is bound to increase. The ongoing election in Bihar, which has seen huge deployment of state police and the CAPF, is bound to result in increased risk. The high number of infections and deaths certainly sounds a note of caution for these forces.”
The IPF had recently written to state police authorities across the country, pressing for regular health check-ups and pointing out the urgent need to address the high prevalence of various comorbidities among the personnel.
“We have seen that states and CAPFs have significantly evolved their policing practices to make sure that there is minimum possible contact, without hampering policing duties and additional pandemic response activities. The very nature of police duties make the officers a high-risk group for getting infected. We hope that the downward trend in daily number of Covid-19 cases is reflected soon in cases among police forces,” said Ramachandran.
The CAPF is an umbrella term for forces under the Union Home Ministry, which includes CRPF, CISF, BSF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Assam Rifles (AR), National Security Guard (NSG) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). The IPF has also included the Covid data of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which draws its personnel from the CAPF.
A senior officer from Maharashtra Police said, “We have seen the number of daily additions stabilising and a slight downward trend over the last few days. However, high-risk duties lie ahead during the festive season. At the level of each jurisdiction and the state-level, too, various standard operating procedures have been put in place to make sure that the risk is minimised.”
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