Home > News > India > Daughter’s words motivate this cop when his voice gets hoarse from making announcements

Senior police inspector Kailash Avhad stepped out from the police van into a deserted street in Mumbai’s sweltering afternoon. His voice is hoarse—Avhad has been on duty since the break of dawn, making announcements to prevent crowding, patrolling the streets and managing the police force in the financial capital’s western suburb of Vakola.

“Corona ko rokne ke liye yeh karna hi padega (This has to be done to stop corona)," said the 53-year-old who heads the Vakola police station, which is a 10-minute drive from the domestic terminal of Mumbai International Airport. Avhad, and hundreds of men and women in Mumbai Police, are at the forefront of the battle to push back the coronavirus pandemic, exposing themselves to potential infection in a city that has largely confined itself indoors.

A week into the lockdown to slow the spread of covid-19, Vakola’s roads leading to the Western Express Highway near the domestic airport in Santa Cruz, Mumbai, are empty.

The smell of hand sanitizer hangs heavy as one passes by the random police checkpoints set up on the road to prevent crowding. Most police personnel, wearing masks, are patrolling this area on four-wheelers and motorcycles, urging the public on public address systems to stay indoors. Avhad is back from one such round.

Since his duty began at 6am, Avhad has been managing the police force deployed in the area, monitoring the public and shops in Vakola, and doing announcements himself on the roads and outside shops.

“The department has provided masks and sanitizers to us. These are normal masks, not N-95 masks. I can’t say if any police officer has been infected by the virus. That is BMC’s lookout," said Avhad.

Dressed in a neatly pressed uniform, he comes across as confident officer, brimming with enthusiasm and dedication.

On normal days, he commutes every day from Thane, outside Mumbai, where he lives with his wife, daughter and mother. But the pandemic has changed things.

“Abhi toh chaar-paanch din mein ek baar ghar jaata hoon, kapde vagaira lene ke liye. Tab ek baar gharwalon se bhi mil leta hoon. Hum sabhi aise hi chala rahe hain (Now, I get to go home once in four-five days to bring my clothes and other essentials. Then, I get a chance to meet my family members also. All of us in the force are doing the same," said Avhad.

He added that the police department has made adequate arrangements for accommodation and food near the station for every officer who is unable to go home.

Avhad, who hails from Maharashtra’s Nashik district, estimated that Vakola has a population of around 700,000.

To manage the lockdown, his force has set up 10-15 checkpoints in the area with at least 55 cops deployed for the operation.

“Our work has increased. At times, some of us work for 15-16 hours a day. That’s okay; we will manage and follow orders coming from the top. But to be honest, the public in this area is not so unruly, at least as far as the virus-related rules are concerned. They listen to us and mostly follow what the Maharashtra government has advised. But, in some cases, we have seen that even for buying vegetables or groceries, three-four people go shopping together. Then, we need to intervene. We have made markings outside many shops in the area, to ensure that no crowding happens and everyone maintains three-feet distance between each other. In the police, we are prepared to tackle any situation," said Avhad, whose daughter keeps motivating him to go the extra mile.

Meanwhile, the number of other crimes has plunged over the past five days, said Avhad. Over the past eight days, reports of petty crimes, domestic violence, molestation and so on have fallen by around 80%, he said, before getting a glass of water.

“Subah se chilla-chilla kar PA system par announce karte karte mera gala baith gaya hai, thoda paani pee leta hoon. Logon ko samajhna chaiye ki yeh koi holiday season nahi hai. Hum bhi sab chhodke samjha rahe hain public ko. Gharwale miss karte hain mujhe, phone karke bolte hain apna khayal rakhna... par corona ko harana hai (Because of my continuous shouting and public announcements, my throat has turned sore; I will have some water now. People must understand that this is not a holiday. We are forgetting everything to make the public aware. My family misses me, urges me to take care of myself… but we have to defeat corona)," said Avhad.

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