‘COVID Police’ is an initiative launched by the Powai Police to allow regular citizens to come forward and volunteer in assisting the police department and other frontline workers. The work of these volunteers revolves around maintaining discipline and social distancing in containment zones, helping the people living in and around containment areas, providing them with food, rations and other essentials.
‘The Watchdog News’ spoke to Ramesh Jadhav, a social worker, who has been volunteering 15 hours daily to aid the community for three months now, and Neeraj Mahune, a cake shop owner, who has been relentlessly working to aid the police and frontline workers for 75 days now. He has been assisting the police and the BMC in helping the people in the quarantine zones.
When asked about what inspired him to volunteer, COVID policeman Jadhav said, “After the lockdown was imposed, we started the work through an NGO, we started with distributing tea to the BMC workers cleaning the road and the police personnel working night and day without even batting an eye in the different zones at 6:30 in the morning. In the afternoon, we distribute lunch that comes from the BMC or any NGO among the homeless people living on the highways and the streets as well as those living in the slums. Our main motive is helping the people with whatever they need either through the BMC or different NGOs or any other way”.
“The people affected with Corona have certain symptoms, it is necessary for the people around them to recognize these symptoms, and to help them recognize these symptoms, we started spreading awareness with a video explaining people more about the disease and how important it is to get examined immediately by a doctor through a portable channel,” said Jadhav. Jadhav and his associates have also distributed sanitizers, masks and handkerchiefs to prevent the spread of the virus in the community.
As a COVID police volunteer his work also includes entering the containment zones and providing the people quarantined with essentials. “The moment you get scared everything is over. Whenever we enter a high-risk containment zone, we ensure that we haven’t touched anything or anyone. We have to enter the zone maintaining safety standards to be able to return back home safely. If the small details are kept in mind, I don’t think any problem would be created, and thankfully nothing untoward has happened yet,” said Jadhav about the fears of entering the containment zones.
Full safety measures are taken by these volunteers while entering containment zones. “I wear a safety kit while delivering essentials in the area. A full body sanitization process is followed before entering and after returning as well. We make sure that we don’t come in direct contact with anything or anyone while doing our work,” explained Jadhav.
Jadhav has been helping people in countless ways since the very start of the lockdown. Seeing his admirable work, the Powai Police then dubbed him— ‘COVID Police’.
Neeraj Mahune has been working till 4 am every night during the pandemic, assisting those struggling to sustain. When asked about why he volunteered for the initiative, the cake shop owner said, “The poor conditions of the migrant workers.” He continued, “I saw them walking home without any food or water, this was a heart wrenching sight for me to see, so I decided to step out and help them out in any way possible. I started by distributing food and water to the migrant workers. We had also sent drinking water for the migrants walking home to Kasara.”
Neeraj does his part by delivering water, food and other essentials to the quarantined homes and societies. “I provide tea and biscuits to the police at Powai Police station, who have remained steadfast in their duty, working day in, day out in the containment zones with the looming threat of risking their own health.”
When asked about the potential hazards of such volunteering, he answered, “All the necessary safety measures and protocols are followed when entering such high risk zones. However, the risks can never fully be mitigated, but that is the cost of doing a greater good and I have no qualms about it.”
“Since we deliver the essentials to the doorstep of the quarantined homes, the people in the quarantined societies have my number, and they call me when in need”, said the COVID policeman, with a sense of pride.
Mahune along with his friend, an optics shop owner, also started an initiative of their own, where frontline workers or police officers having any kind of issues with their spectacles could get it repaired without any cost.
When asked if he ever let fear dictate his actions while working in containment zones the cake shop owner said, “During the start I used to be a little scared but eventually I overcame it and continued my work in full swing again.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for the initiative may volunteer to join the COVID police by registering at the Rambaugh Police station in Powai.