By: Nishanth Salian
Part 3: Police Diaries: Virus Fights Back.
If you missed Episode 1: How the Lockdown was implemented in Bangalore: Shri Bhaskar Rao, IPS
All the DCP’s, especially the 10 female DCP’s out of the total 21 showed incredible sensitivity, patience & response. As the issue at hand kept becoming bigger and bigger, we started positioning check-posts in many places during the lockdown.
We positioned a total of 675 check-posts in bangalore, to prevent people from moving. Wherever it was possible to put a check post, we put it & allowed only movements for essential services.
I was getting numerous calls regarding protests at several such places. So we took a decision and informed the 28,000 police officers, that they are all ‘Police Commissioners’.
We told them to think like the police commissioner and take the decision on the spot during such situations. Everyone had their own emergencies. If some had to go for Cardiac care then others for Diabetes check-up.
So we left it to the constables and head constables manning the barricades to take the decision and act accordingly. Believe me, the lower level of our Force i.e, the Constables, Head Constables & the A.S.Is. They have all done a remarkable job! The have worked beyond my expectations,
Day & Night!
We opened up kitchens inside the police stations during the lockdown due to non-availability of food from outside sources. Getting to know about this, we saw many people coming to the stations requesting for food, whom we welcomed & shared our food with.
On a lighter note, many of the popular cooks from the big closed restaurants also came to the station voluntarily providing help to our staff in cooking. Notably, in the North-East where our DCP, Bhima Shankar Gunaid!
So in few of the Police station we were cooking up a storm with Pasta & Spaghetti’s. The most important part of all this was to keep the morale of every officer in high spirits.
Every day we were stationing our officers outside. It was imperative to keep all our officers healthy and not succumb to the virus!
As the days rolled by, the number of infected people continued to grow at an alarming rate. It was a huge team work under the leadership of the Chief Secretary, D.G.P & the Chief Minister.
We used to get COVID reports twice in the day, at 12 in the morning and at 5 in the evening.How many are infected/dead and how are our efforts in dealing with the situation helping the cause etc. During the time, we weren’t aware of the PPE Kits. We were under the impression that the PPE kits were only for the medical professionals who are directly dealing with the patients.
As salient as it was to build confidence in people, it was also equally important to build the credence in our Police force that we can stand up to this situation at hand. Even during such a bad condition, we were trying to keep the atmosphere light by joking among ourselves that this is the head ache of the Health Dept.
To which our Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Basavaraj Bommai would respond by telling us to be wary or one day this will be the head ache of the home dept., which ultimately came true!
The Police Dept. played a pivotal role.
- To keep the public at home.
- Essential supplies from the surrounding villages of Bangalore like Chickballapur, Kolar, Tumkur, Mandya, Kanakpura
had to be transported to Bangalore to APMC markets, from there to grocery shops and finally to the people.
We used get millions of suggestions from the public on a daily basis. Some suggested to let people commute in a limited period as a curfew rule. Some retorted such suggestions citing Social Distance Compromise.
Our challenges kept increasing and diversifying every single day. Not only making people to stay at home, limiting their commute but to maintain social distancing between the few people who do come out for essentials by making them stand in the circles made by us, to strictly enforce ‘No mask No entry’ rule, to make sure every shop has made the sanitization facility available out front. Bringing these small yet impactful changes to a routine proved extremely challenging.
People would fight and argue with us at almost every junction. We saw that Police were using Batons on people to control them in different parts of the country. Upon seeing that we took a conscious decision to not use them here. We left our batons behind and implemented 144 CRPC.
Batons empower’s the Police. It was difficult, frustrating and tiring for us to try and convince people to stay at home, just through plain talking without using batons. But still we stuck to our guns of not using the batons on people in such dire conditions.
We had made arrangements of water and food supply to our officers. They were ordered to be well hydrated. Most of the officers sent their families away to the villages during the lockdown. We got hold of a marriage hall and a hotel, for the male and female officers separately to stay and be available at a moments notice.
Arrangements were made for washing machines to wash their clothes and Iron them, so that they wear their uniforms with utmost dignity and discipline. When each & every day the officers had to interact with numerous people, it was a given that they could also get infected by the virus. As we were facing such challenges on a daily basis, the virus was still spreading without any sign of stoppage.
Even with all these meticulously planned pre-cautions, we were hit with the news that one of our own officers in the Frazer Town Police Station was infected by the virus and had become the first casualty. It was quite a shock to us all in the Police Force.
In the next episode, I will tell you about how our valiant officers were infected and sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, while protecting and maintaining the social distancing & curfew rules during the lockdown.
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