Coronavirus Outbreak: 'What will I tell my family if I catch an infection?' ask Mumbai Police personnel

Updated: Mar 29, 2020, 09:48 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Cops worried about their health with masks, sanitisers in short supply; upset over allegations that they are "inhuman"

A police constable at Nagpada gives a face mask to a biker as precautionary measure. Pic/Bipin Kokate
A police constable at Nagpada gives a face mask to a biker as precautionary measure. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The most vulnerable after medics dealing with the coronavirus outbreak are the city's police personnel who have become yet another first line defence, but with little protection for themselves. Since the personnel—lower ranks in particular—are out on the streets, ill-equipped and exposed to all kinds of danger, anxiety is rife among the staff.

Several police constables and junior officers from Mumbai Police told mid-day that they faced shortage of sanitizers, face masks and hand gloves because the fund allotted to their respective police stations is meagre. The personnel suffering from acute hypertension, diabetes and respiratory problems, are exposing themselves to the virus, thanks to crowd controlling duties on the streets. "The constabulary and their immediate bosses such as police sub-inspectors have been sensitised towards taking precautions. We don't have quality masks and sanitisers. I think police stations were given R10,000 each to buy such items, but the amount is too little," said an officer, requesting anonymity. "And when we used force against the civilians when there was no option left, we were called inhuman," he said.

Each station has at least four vehicles which are being used by officers and beat mobile units. "The vans in particular carry groups. We need sanitisers in the vans and we must also carry the liquid on our person. But not all are able to do it," said an officer.

A constable said the working hours have increased and so there is work pressure. "We go out with a heavy burden on our minds. What if I contract the infection? What will I tell my family? But then, we must perform our duty," he said.

According to information, the Mumbai Police were to be given a significant share of the 25 lakh masks that were seized from the black market recently. Six lakh went to the BMC hospitals and the rest was sent to Haffkine Institute.

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