Policemen wearing coronavirus safety gear found it hard to control their emotions on Wednesday as they paid their last respects to their colleague, Delhi Police Inspector Sanjeev Yadav, a braveheart who died fighting COVID-19. While colleagues wrapped his body in the Indian flag, family members, also in personal protective equipment (PPE), stood in the corner, trying to come to terms with the grief.
Sanjeev Yadav was among the 10 Delhi Police personnel who have lost their lives battling coronavirus. So far, around 2,000 Delhi Police personnel have been affected by COVID-19. While 1,300 have recovered, 700 are still fighting the disease.
ACP Surendrajeet Kaur, 57, is among those who recovered but her husband Charan Jeet Singh, 54 who tested positive five days after her, lost his life. The couple's 26-year-old son who lives in Canada could not even attend the funeral because of the ban on flights.
Surendrajeet Kaur told NDTV, "It has been a very tough situation for us. I was the one going out every day and not my husband and he suffered. Many of my colleagues too are making sacrifices on a daily basis. Despite the odds, none of the policemen have turned their backs on people. We need the support of the public to defeat this disease. I want to send this message to people that please don't take this disease lightly. It has destroyed so many families and taken so many lives. I know what the pain feels like and don't want anyone else to go through the same."
Policemen risk their lives and expose themselves to the most infected places, guarding 440 containment zones of Delhi, from the most congested lanes to high rise apartments.
30-year-old Constable Rajkumar Kushwaha is on 8-hour duty each day at a containment zone in the dingy lanes of Palam. In the last two months, this is his third containment zone stint. He has two children who are less than 10 years old.
Rajkumar Kushwaha said, "It is very worrying for us all the time as we go back to our families. I have small kids. We do get sanitisers. But here we do our duty all day but all we have at our disposal is drinking water. There is no food. If we need anything we have to arrange it ourselves."
39-year-old Constable Navin has been guarding a containment zone in Dwarka for 12 hours daily for last 25 days. He said, "It is tough but that won't deter us from serving the people. My mother is 60 and I go back home to her so it's a concern. I try to take all possible precautions. I go and wash all my clothes, sanitise everything multiple times. Our seniors do come every now and then to boost our morale."
The senior cops are trying to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of the police on the streets. Sanjay Bhatia, DCP Central District, Delhi Police told NDTV, "We tried to arrange the best hospitals for each patient. Got immunity boosters and special kits from the AYUSH Ministry. For the rest masks, PPEs, sanitisers, face shields everything was arranged. For emotional and mental wellbeing, we arranged for consultation with doctors so that they don't have any fear or myths in their mind. To boost their morale we also arranged psychologists. Started a campaign called Healthy Police-Happy Police. The Delhi Police Commissioner has been hands-on in resolving the issues of our forces in the field."