Maharashtra has requested the centre for 20 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to rest its own fatigued police force who have been out on the streets since the March 22, three days before the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown began.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters, "Our police force has been working day and night to enforce the lockdown necessitated by the corona pandemic. Now we also have festivals like Eid coming up. We have to make arrangements to maintain law and order. The police need to get some rest. Which is why we have requested 20 companies of the Centre's Central Armed Police Forces or 2,000 men. The state government has made the request the Central Government."
Earlier Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had indicated that the state was likely to request for central forces to give rest to the police force in the state. "All our departments are working under pressure. Doctors, nurses, cleaning staff and revenue department staff and even the police. Under the stress of duty the police are getting tired. Some are falling ill. Some have died. They have died as they are fighting for us. They are falling ill and they don't have time to rest. They are getting tired. They are humans. Even doctors are humans. Ignoring their trouble is cruel. They also need to be given rest in between," he had said in an address to the state on Friday.
"I have thought about this and I am saying this to you. But don't twist it and change the meaning. I think that we will tell the centre that if we need more forces, if we need to give the police some rest, we will do it in phases. Give them rest and then bring them back on duty. If some policeman falls ill, we need to give them time to recover. And for that if we need more forces, we will ask the Centre for it. But when we do that some might say, see, we've called in the army. The army is not being called in. But to address the issue of fatigue in the police, to give them rest if we need the extra forces, we will ask the centre for it," Mr Thackeray had added.
Several prominent politicians and even celebrities have changed their social media profile display pictures to the logo of the state police to mark their gratitude for the services rendered by the police during the lockdown. Over 1,000 policemen have been infected by the coronavirus and seven policemen have died due to COVID-19 so far in the state. Maharashtra has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country at over 24,000 including 921 deaths.