Even as the nationwide lockdown largely confined people to their homes, many Station House Officers (SHOs) in Delhi Police chose to keep themselves away from their homes -- since the restrictions began on 25 March -- to enforce the prohibitory orders and save their families from coronavirus infection.
Many of these officers have not been able to see their families for the last 22 days despite their presence in the city.
These SHOs are in-charge of local police stations whose primary job is to maintain law and order in their areas. Their duty also involves daily interaction with people, which in the given circumstances, makes them vulnerable to corona infection.
These SHOs also carry out a range of other duties, including instructing people to maintain social distancing in markets, colonies and, at times, taking legal action against those flouting the prohibitory orders.
Rajesh Sharma from R K Puram Police Station, Ravi Shankar from Vasant Vihar and Sanjeev Kumar from Vasant Kunj are among those SHOs who did not visit their homes since the first phase of 21-day lockdown that began on 24 March midnight. Two of them were stationed at their police stations much before the restrictions were imposed across the country.
Parasnath Verma from South Campus police station has been keeping himself home-quarantined for the last five days after non-stop duty since 24 March. Almost all SHOs like them contact their family members through video calls once or twice in a day. Some of them visit their homes once or twice, but they don't enter the house. They collect their medicines and clothes from outside and return to their job.
There are 209 police stations in Delhi out of which 178 have officers who are "on field" duty where the SHOs are face-to-face with the real battle against COVID-19. These SHOs are said to be the backbone of around 90,000-strong Delhi Police force.
SHO Sanjeev Kumar says he has not gone to his home since 17 March. "This is necessary to serve twin-purpose: do my duty and simultaneously keep my family safe," he told IANS. The 50-year-old 1996-batch SHO said that migrant worker issue is the biggest problem in his jurisdiction.
"My team shifted around 150 migrant workers to a Delhi government shelter home in Mahipalpur. We have managed to provide food to 2,000 migrant labourers per day in Ghitorni and Rajokari areas while ensuring lockdown measures and social distancing," said Kumar.
"The personnel in my police station are kept in clean and sanitized barracks where they ensure social distancing," said R K Puram SHO Rajesh Sharma, who has been in his police station since 25 March. He too avoids visiting home because virus can be carried to our homes because we have to visit so many clusters.
"It is the responsibility of the police to ensure presence of the SHO in a police station. This boosts the morale of the general staff," said Sharma.
He said around 10 "clusters" fall under his jurisdiction where he sends three teams to provide food to migrant workers sheltered at 11:00am, 2:30pm, and 5:30pm.
The 1994-batch SHO Ravi Shankar told IANS that he has been stationed in his Vasant Vihar police station since 20 March. "I don't go home because it sets an example for my juniors. This way, I am keeping my family safe too," he said.
The officer said 30 per cent of the staff at his police station have been sent on leave along with Additional SHO.
Talking to IANS, South Campus SHO Prasnath said he was told to keep himself quarantined at his home as he was continuously working since the first phase of the lockdown.
The extended lockdown will end on 3 May.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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