It has been a very tough time for policemen all over the country since the outbreak of the coronavirus about four months ago. Some of these men in uniform have not met their family members in days as they put people’s life before self.
Such has been the motivation of Assam Police which has been on the job of maintaining law and order and discipline for the last many months.
So far, the Assam Police has registered 1129 COVID-19 cases among its personnel. Of them, 845 have recovered, 280 are undergoing treatment, while four have lost their lives to the virus. Special attention has been taken to keep elderly and those with comorbidity off frontline duties.
Assam DGP Bhaskar Joyti Mahanta told CNN News18, "Our men have been prepared from as early as March and have put in their best. We have unfortunately had a few casualties because of the virus but our fight continues."
GP Singh, ADG Law and Order, has been on a dual role, while doubling up as a nodal officer for inter-state migration movement.
Singh told CNN News18, "The most important and the practical problem for us has been to ensure our forces don't carry the infection back to their homes. However, from the pre-Independence times, we have a system of keeping a lot of our men in barracks, etc. This pandemic has exposed that dark underbelly. In the course of our duty, while we are taking the infection head-on, we are bringing it back to our people and administratively, we don't have resources to give individual accommodation to some of our men and guard them against infection. This remains our biggest challenge."
Ponjit Dowarah, Additional DCP, Administration, is a COVID-19 survivor. He spoke to CNN News18 about what has kept him going. "I tested positive on 4th July. Was shifted to GMCH. I am a part of the frontline warriors fighting against the unknown contagion, and I feel proud of it. Sometimes the thought of the family bothered me but when I focussed on the noble job at our hands, I found a heavenly bliss. Now I have tested negative for coronavirus and soon would be back on duty."
Moon Prakash Tiwari who works as Reserve Inspector at Police Commissionerate Guwahati, said," I tested positive on July 12. Was shifted to IIT Covid Care Hospital. Being a part of frontline warriors, I feel proud. Three of my family members also tested positive, but I focussed on my job and my family stood by me. I hope to be back on duty soon."
Abhijit Dokey, SI Probationer of Panbazar PS, tested positive on June 13. He said, "I am a frontline worker, and was on the field to enforce lockdown and I am one of the lucky few to get the opportunity to serve mankind during the time of crisis. I have tested negative and have also donated plasma. Now I am back on duty."
Utpal Gogoi, SI Probationer of Sivasagar PS, who tested positive on June 25, said, "I was always optimistic. I took this as a crisis which will soon be over. I've now tested negative and now I am back on duty."
Even when lodged in quarantine, the personnel keep their spirits high -- not only many of them do yoga and follow other forms of fitness, but also encourage the other co-patients to take to it. At times, they also self-discipline those in quarantine with them.
The Assam Police has also used innovative ways to guard the public against contracting the virus by following mask and face covering mandatory but also to keep social distancing.
Recently, the department used a picture of actor Shahrukh Khan and his famous pose with his hands stretched out to deliver the message of social distancing among citizens.
"It's a very tough job on our hands as we don't know when this virus will be behind us. But for us, we know whether at home or in field, a policeman is never off duty,” DGP Mahanta signed off.