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Over 330 Covid deaths in Central police forces, 40% in second wave

More than 35 per cent of infections and almost 40 per cent of deaths occurred in the period beginning from the third week of March, when the second wave of the pandemic started to pick up.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral | New Delhi |
Updated: July 12, 2021 6:47:26 am
The largest numbers of infections and deaths have been seen in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the largest of the CAPFs.

More than 84,000 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel have tested positive for Covid-19 so far, and 331 have succumbed to the virus, data from the Union Home Ministry show.

More than 35 per cent of infections and almost 40 per cent of deaths occurred in the period beginning from the third week of March, when the second wave of the pandemic started to pick up.

The largest numbers of infections and deaths have been seen in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the largest of the CAPFs.

Of the total 84,045 CAPF personnel infected with the virus from the beginning of the epidemic early last year to July 6 this year, 24,840 belonged to the CRPF. The CRPF has lost 125 of its personnel to Covid-19.

Explained

Why forces are vulnerable

Approximately 9 lakh CAPF personnel are deployed across the length and breadth of the country. The fact that they stay in barracks, with shared living and meal areas, makes them especially vulnerable. An officer said that training centres too are vulnerable because “the entire batch stays, eats, and does all its work together”. The armed forces too have seen almost 45,000 cases and around 120 deaths from Covid.

The Border Security Force (BSF) reported 22,978 cases and 90 deaths during the same period, and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) reported 19,676 cases and 76 deaths, according to Home Ministry dat0a.

In roughly a year from the time the epidemic hit India in 2020 to March 23 this year, 53,343 CAPF personnel tested positive, and 203 passed away, a senior official told The Indian Express.

Among those who tested positive for the coronavirus during this period, 15,610 belonged to the CRPF, 14,728 to the BSF, 11,513 to the CISF, 5,747 to the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), 4,736 to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), 660 to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and 349 to the National Security Guard (NSG), the official said.

“All personnel started getting vaccinated from the end of February [2021], and so far almost 99 per cent have received the first dose and 90% have received both doses,” the official said. “By the time the second wave of the pandemic started, most of the personnel had received the first dose.”

“Until July 6 this year, 30,702 personnel had tested positive and 128 had lost their lives,” the official said.

CAPF personnel, along with personnel of the Armed Forces, are categorised as frontline workers. India started inoculating healthcare workers and some categories of frontline workers on January 16; vaccination for the bulk of frontline workers began on February 1 after detailed data had been collated.

According to officials, ex gratia has been paid to the families of most of the deceased personnel, and efforts are on to provide employment to one member each from the families on compassionate grounds.

“The Ministry has decided to dedicate this year’s Police Commemoration Day (October 21) to the jawans who lost their lives due to Covid,” an official said.

The first Covid death among CAPF personnel was that of ITBP Head Constable Ramesh Tomar, who succumbed to the infection on May 28 last year.

“My father had requested a transfer from Uttarakhand to Delhi to arrange my and my sister’s marriages… He was cremated in Delhi, and senior officials spoke with us over the phone. We have got the compensation due to him, and I am waiting for approval of my application for a job,” Tomar’s son Chirag Tomar said.

Suman Devi, wife of ITBP Constable Satpal Singh Samota who died of Covid-19, said: “We have been provided with all the financial benefits due to my husband… I have an MA degree, but I declined a job that was offered to me in Kullu. My child is studying in Class 7, and after some years, my child can apply to the government for employment.”

Sewli Medhi, wife of ITBP Head Constable Kiran Medhi, said, “My husband was posted in Dibrugarh, and after his death, the government extended all financial help to us. Senior officials coordinated with us.”

Since March 23, there have been 9,230 cases and 44 deaths in the CRPF, 8,250 cases and 41 deaths in the BSF, 8,163 cases and 31 deaths in the CISF, 3,569 cases and six deaths in the SSB, 1,151 cases and four deaths in the ITBP, 187 cases and one death in the NDRF, and 152 cases and one death in the NSG.

Until July 6, a total 82,858 CAPF personnel have recovered from the infection, officials said.

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