In an unprecedented show of solidarity with their colleague who was injured in the line of duty during the Covid curfew, the entire police force of Punjab, led by DGP Dinkar Gupta, Monday wore a nameplate carrying SI Harjeet Singh’s name. Harjeet Singh’s left hand was dismembered in an attack by a group of Nihangs in Patiala after a police party intercepted them and asked for curfew passes.
The day also saw DGP Gupta launch a special social media campaign — #MainBhiHarjeetSingh – which saw tremendous support pour in from police personnel, not only from Punjab, but across the country.
While the 80,000-strong police wore badges of support, a constable from the SI’s village, Gulab Singh, went a step ahead than his colleagues to donate an acre of his land for setting up a playground in SI Harjeet Singh’s name. Both the SI and the constable belong to a small Dharonki village in Nabha of Patiala.
The trending hashtag was also shored up by twitter users outside the police community. Noted Punjabi singer Satinder Sartaaj, rapper Honey Singh and Punjabi film actor Guggu Gill expressed solidarity with the campaign.
On his official twitter handle, Gujarat DGP Shivanand Jha wrote: “SI Harjeet Singh of Punjab Police is symbol of dedication of police force in the country in fight against COVID-19. His devotion to duty and calmness in adverse circumstances reflect the best tradition of policing. #GujaratPolice wishes for speedy recovery #MainBhiHarjeetSingh”
Haryana Inspector General (Traffic and Highways) Dr Rajshri Singh dedicated a poem penned by her to Harjeet in a twitter post.
While Kerala Police’s official twitter handle posted a picture with #MainBhiHarjeetSingh and wrote “a show of solidarity, a tribute to sacrifice”, Uttarakhand DGP Anil K Raturi changed his nameplate to Harjeet Singh on Monday.
On its official handle, Tripura police tweeted, “Tripura Police stands with COVID 19 Protector SI Harjeet Singh of Punjab Police who showed exemplary courage….Don’t harass doctors. #ManiBhiHarjeetSingh #PunjabPoliceInd”.
A similar message was posted from the twitter handle of Andaman Police. “@AndamanPolice salutes the bravery of #CoronaWarrior SI Harjeet Singh of Punjab Police. He is a symbol of strength, resilience and untiring spirit of the police forces during the #FightAgainstCOVID 19,” the post read.
Punjab DGP said SI Harjeet Singh has emerged as a symbol of nation’s fight against COVID-19. “This battle is being led by frontline policemen and healthcare professionals but unfortunately some of them are being attacked by people in many places across the country,” said the DGP, adding that when Harjeet’s hand was chopped off at Patiala during an attack by Nihangs, he symbolised the best attributes of a good cop by remaining calm and showing courage under fire.
Gupta said that he had written to several state police heads to show solidarity with police personnel, healthcare professionals and other frontline workers.
Talking to the Indian Express, Constable Gulab Singh (32) said, “When the DGP sahib asked all of us to wear his name on the nameplate, I thought I
should contribute my bit to show my gratitude to him for his bravery. I discussed it with my family and they agreed to donate the land.”
Gulab Singh, who lives in the village with his family, has requested Punjab Police to convert one acre out of his 8 acres of land into a playground, so that “village can produce a nursery of fit youth to serve the nation”.
Asked about the price of an acre of land in the village, he said: “Please do not equate our gratitude with money. He has shown exemplary valour which cannot be equated even in crores. The state, the village and the police force cannot pay him back with money,”
He says that Harjeet, who lives in Patiala, visits the village often and has a few acres of agriculture land here.
“I was inspired by him to join the Punjab Police. I want many others to get
inspiration from him,” he said, adding that both his family and panchayat were on board with his decision.
Suggesting that a trust should be set up to create infrastructure on the ground, he added: “I just want that every year on April 12, when the SI was injured in a life threatening attack, a tournament should be organised in the village.” The SI’s hand was stitched back by doctors of PGIMER in Chandigarh and he is recovering after the surgery.
Talking over phone from PGI, Harjeet Singh said, “No words can suffice how proud and thankful I feel for this campaign. It is a feeling which I cannot express in words.”