Hyderabad: Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat said policing during the Covid-19 pandemic is different. “It is a bigger challenge for all the forces as they are confronting unknown threats,” he told Deccan Chronicle in an exclusive interview. “Within a short period, we all got accustomed to this.”
Bhagwat said during training they learn about combating situations like chemical, biological and nuclear (CBNs) disasters but never anticipated a pandemic situation of this type.
Did you, during your training as a young IPS officer, ever imagine that you would be spearheading any battle with a virus?
During training, we learn about combating situations like chemical, biological and nuclear (CBNs) disasters. We never anticipated that we would deal with such a situation. Coronavirus, in many ways, remains a mystery. However, right from day one, we were ready for disaster mitigation.
How is policing different now compared to the pre-pandemic days?
Policing is totally different now. The new normal has been adoption of social distancing, wearing masks and carrying sanitizers. It is a bigger challenge for all the forces as they are confronting unknown threats. Within a short period, we all got accustomed to this. New protocols have been introduced for everyone, including accused in cases before sending them to judicial custody. Even officers who are infected and subsequently cured must submit negative test reports before resuming duty.
What are the challenges you are facing during the Covid second wave compared to the first?
The second wave viruses are far different from the first one and the knowledge that we gained from the first wave is found insufficient. We had to rework our methods, constantly gaining knowledge of the symptoms and ways to deal with it.
This is the era of social media. Are you under increasing pressure from what people have to say on social media, including those pointing out mistakes? How has social media changed policing?
Social media has helped in getting connected with people and getting acknowledged for the good you are doing. Sometimes, false news seeps in and at times, incidents are exaggerated, and police are targeted. That is quite disheartening. There are some who are active on social media but they are not socially responsible. They want everything to be done by the police. There was an incident when a person complained that a cab that was booked was delayed by 15 minutes.
Have the acceptance levels of police been less or more among people?
A survey in 2020 said that around 30 per cent of people believe in the police. The same agency repeated the survey recently and found that around 70 per cent of people in the state now trust the police and appreciate our hard work. Officers skipped going home for several days, missed family time, and many got infected. They helped in providing dry rations and food to the crisis-hit families. The true identity of police had come out during the pandemic.
How do you keep yourself safe being at the frontline day after day? Also, there is the pressure of keeping your families safe. How are you managing this?
We meticulously followed all safety protocols from day one, all my officers are asked to follow the protocol, take immunity boosters and traditional medicines. Even after reaching home, we stay isolated from our family for almost an hour. We insist all officers take immunity boosters before starting the day....