The Pink Room: A conversation with a police officer who is fighting to keep his jurisdiction healthy

Amid the coronavirus outbreak in India, here’s how a brave heart cop is fighting against the invisible enemy and making efforts to keep his jurisdiction safe.
The Pink Room: A conversation with a police officer who is fighting to keep his jurisdiction healthyThe Pink Room: A conversation with a police officer who is fighting to keep his jurisdiction healthy
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"What's different about this bandobast? Usually, we know what's the fight about and who should be controlled. This bandobast [lockdown for COVID-19] we are up against an invisible enemy," says Mumbai ACP, Avinash Dharmadhikari, who is also a President's Police Medal awardee for distinguished service.

"There is this disquieting silence that is troubling not just the public but each of the police personnel who is on the ground trying to enforce the lockdown," he adds. He is fighting a war on multiple fronts, he claims. On one side, the police have to enforce the lockdown to restrict the spread of COVID-19 virus. On the other hand, the officers face the task of educating people that pandemic is a serious issue, and it doesn't suffer from the bias of gender, class or even religion.

"I do not deny that there is frustration on both sides. This is the longest lockdown the majority of the population living today has ever witnessed. Only 10% of the population hasn't understood the seriousness of this. There are mischievous elements everywhere, and to control them we have to sometimes resort to the use of strength. However, it is never the primary choice of handling such cases. We try to reason and understand if they genuinely have a rationale for violating the lockdown," he says. 

"Only 2-3% of people are genuinely coming out of their houses for real reasons. Sometimes we hear absolutely frivolous excuses. We have met people who claim that they are going to a particular shop because that is the only place where they get their favourite mehndi (henna). We stopped a couple who were travelling with their young child on a two-wheeler in the hunt for a specific brand of chips which has a red colour packaging. They said, their child doesn't eat any other wafer brand. And then, there was a man who drove far away because a particular medical store offers him 10% off," he chuckles. "Do we like to do it? No. But we cannot put the whole area under risk because of few such people," he adds.

"Some people want to be rebels without a cause," he replies when asked about the underlying reasons for such violations. Commenting on the circulating videos positioning one community against another, ACP asserts that such propaganda is dangerous and works against society.

"If opposition and all leaders (whether political or religious) issue a unified appeal to their followers to cooperate with the police, it would help us tide over this difficult time. We have an area where there is a high concentration of minority community, which was gripped by misinformation that eating hot and freshly cooked food and praying is all we can do to fight the pandemic. We spoke with their religious leader, and he made an appeal on the video to all the community members which was circulated through chat groups. People immediately responded, and we saw a change in behaviour. Fact is, people genuinely want to help each other but don't know what to believe and what not. What they need is guidance," ACP Avinash insists.

"Through media, we want to inform people that around 85% of the minority community is obeying our orders. Yet, few people are concentrating their energies to speak about around 10% of those who aren't. The efforts should be to bring every one to follow the guidelines so that we can together emerge out of this pandemic. United is the only way we can defeat this," he adds.

ACP Avinash claims that the pandemic has ushered in a change in the police force, too. "Even within the department, the hierarchy vanishes once the duty ends. After the onset of this crisis, our officers have Suo-moto cancelled their leaves; we are witnessing unprecedented attendance rates of over 90%. Even officers suffering from a disability or life-threatening diseases have joined duty and expressed their keen desire to work on-ground or do their bit. You will see from a constable to the highest-ranking officer working together during the duty time. And once they are off-duty, you will find them engaging in friendly fights across the carrom board or chessboard," he reveals.

To maintain social distancing protocols, the officer visits his home only on Saturday evening. For the rest of the days, he prefers to stay back in the office where he has arranged a temporary bed. "I go home wearing sports attire so that I can directly enter the bathroom and take a bath. I sit alone for some time before mingling with my family. There is a risk factor as we are always out on duty. I even encourage my staff to avoid going home every day. So, most of them do 3 days rotational shift," he says, before adding, "I told you, the pandemic doesn't discriminate. Not even against a law-abiding police officer. So, prevention is better than cure!"

Once we conclude the call, I wonder: In the world of entertainment, we always whistle and clap when the macho police officer rips apart hundreds of villains. But then we all stand guilty of at least once arguing with a police officer or referring to him with an epithet behind his back just because we found it funny. These officers today stand on guard to save our lives, without once thinking how safe are theyThe least we can do is to cooperate. Or is it too much to ask for?

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Editor’s Note: The Pink Room scrutinises how a day in the lives of different professionals have undergone a change during COVID-19 pandemic.

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Comments

Good work sir

Hariom

Great job sir.
Wish u all the best.
N we r all there for u .

Hariom

सत्य परिस्थितीचा मागोवा पोलिसांबादद्ल वैचारिक लेख सद्य परिस्थीतीचं वास्तविक वर्णन

Good job i salute such type of brave officer

Good job i salute

Great job Pinkvilla he is brave

Hats of

Hats of

Brave

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