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Policewomen on covid duty face challenges like lack of washrooms & irregular food. But these covid warriors risk their own lives to ensure we're safe!
Policewomen on covid-duty face challenges like lack of washrooms & irregular food. But these covid warriors risk their own lives to ensure we’re safe!
Sakshi is one of the 204 women police officers roped in for COVID-19 duties in Kangra district, one of the worst affected by the second wave of the pandemic in Himachal Pradesh.
Aarti, another women constable, deployed in Behin village shared that their duty demands them to move from place to place. “Sometimes, we have to stay in schools, panchayat bhawans, or even police stations. We can be accommodated at any place, at short notice, with bare minimum facilities,” she informed.
Hailing from Palampur, Sakshi was deployed at the Behin village. After that, she moved to Shantala Containment Zone for some days before being stationed at the Police Lines in Dharamshala.
While in Behin, Sakshi stayed in a school building along with four other women constables who cooked after a strenuous day’s duty. For these covid warriors, the duty included standing guard at the village entry points or patrolling to ensure that no one entered the village through fields or other routes. If the force was curtailed because of some exigency, then they had to be on duty for 10- 12 hours including the night shifts.
“We are in constant touch with the Panchayat Pradhan of the village. With his help and only after checking the necessary documents, we allow people to enter the village. We need to be vigilant and patrol all the points that could be used for entering the village including agriculture fields,” Sakshi informed.
Explaining how these police officers helped the village contain the spread of the virus, Tarsem Kumar, the Gram Panchayat Pradhan, said that the police force deployed at Behin during the containment period was quite effective.
“Three camps for Covid-19 testing were organized successfully as these police personnel made sure that protocols were followed. These women police officers had built a good rapport with the people and they prevented any untoward incidents,” he explained.
Sakshi is among the 76 women police personnel from the Indian Reserve Battalion who can be deployed anywhere in the state based on the requirement at any particular time. Sakshi, who had joined the police force in 2018, has been on the move since then.
Last year, when the first wave of the novel Coronavirus had strengthened its grip across the country, she was deployed for six months at Baddi, which was a hotspot. Then, Sakshi was sent to manage crowds during the Navratri festival at the Naina Devi temple. This was followed by stop-gap duties in Mandi, a district that had the second-highest number of Covid cases during the first wave!
Aarti, another woman constable, also deployed in Behin village shared that their duty demands them to adapt as they move from place to place.
“Sometimes, we have to stay in schools, panchayat bhawans, or even police stations. We can be accommodated at any place, at short notice, with bare minimum facilities,” she informed.
“There are times when we manage to get good food, while there are days when we are not so lucky. However, we have learned to manage. We are always ready with our bedding and other necessities so that we can move swiftly whenever and wherever we are asked to go,” shared these two young, gutsy women officers.
Over the years, they have learned to strategize to make them stay a little less uncomfortable especially during physically and mentally demanding times like these.
“We are assigned duties in shifts. This way, whoever is not on duty, cooks for others. This arrangement works well for the five of us deployed here,” explained Aarti who was deployed in Behin since April 12.
“Yes, the risk of being infected is always there,” said the women officers. However, they are provided with the necessary gear like masks, gloves, sanitizers, and PPE kits.
“Last year, during the first wave, while I was posted on the Baddi border, I had to wear a PPE kit the entire time to protect myself and others,” informed Sakshi.
It is not just the officers posted on site who are at risk but the women police personnel posted in thanas (stations) have also been assigned roles as frontline workers. They too have to travel to nearby villages to ensure villagers are following the lockdown rules. However, they are not required to stay there.
Bindu, a station house officer (SHO), at a woman police station in Dharamshala was infected by COVID-19 while she had gone to investigate a rape case.
Today, she inspects and monitors various Covid-19 related activities assigned to the police officers in addition to other duties.
According to Dinesh Kumar, Additional Superintendent of Police, Kangra,“Apart from duties in containment zones, policewomen are deployed at vaccination centres and markets to prevent chaos during relaxation of curfew and to ensure that Covid-19 protocols are followed. They make sure that people follow rules of social distancing and that the shops close on time. They are also posted at traffic points to make sure that COVID-19 appropriate behaviour is being followed at all times.”
These women have to confront unruly, uncooperative, rude, and aggressive behaviour when violators are warned to follow the relevant protocols. Additionally, long hours of duty, lack of washroom facilities are some of the challenges that they have to take in their stride.
When these policewomen are deployed at places for a long time that do not have the basic facilities, they feel dispirited. But this momentary feeling is nothing compared to the happiness and satisfaction they derive from serving the nation.
“I feel proud of being a part of the force that ensures law and order in the country and protects people,” shared Sakshi.
Police are often at the receiving end, but these plucky policewomen are risking their own lives to ensure that we are safe, like so many other frontline workers in these trying times.
Image source: Still from Jai Gangaajal
(A version of this post has earlier appeared in https://www.dailypioneer.com/2021/vivacity/policewomen-at-the-frontlines.html)
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Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
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Gender stereotypes, though a by-product of the patriarchal society that we have always lived in, are now so intricately woven into our conditioning that despite our progressive thinking, we are unable to break free from them.
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Today, as I walked by this red-violet patch, I was reminded of an incident that my mother had narrated to me several times. It had taken place shortly after her marriage and her arrival in this house from her hometown.