It becomes difficult and risky for people, especially those who are unwell, to step outside and arrange food and medicines when the pandemic is raging in West Bengal and the state has declared a lockdown. In such dire conditions, the Siliguri Metropolitan Police, under the leadership of CP Gaurav Sharma IPS, has come up with a new initiative in which free food and medicines are being delivered to Covid affected families.
“When Covid hits home, it is not one just patient but multiple members of the family who get affected and have to stay in isolation. In addition to that, the other unaffected members of the family also need to stay in isolation for precaution. Besides, there are the Covid affected patients who stay alone. This causes difficulty in arranging food and medicines. So we thought of arranging help by delivering medicines and food to these families and individuals as it is our duty to look after the people,” said Gaurav Sharma IPS, CP Siliguri Police.
How it works
The Siliguri Police got in touch with some organizations and many volunteered to contribute to this initiative. “We acted as a bridge. Whoever needs help with food and medicines or knows anybody who needs them can contact us and we are making it available to them through our local units working at the ground level,” informed CP Sharma.
When people call the helpline number (917001310127), the Covid helpline cell relays the information to the concerned local unit which sends the dispatch to the person’s house or contacts them through telephone, Whatsapp or email whichever they prefer and the police gets it arranged according to requirement.
The traffic guards, local police stations are in contact with the agencies or volunteers trying to help. People also forward their prescriptions digitally or if they do not have a phone or are not digitally equipped, the local policeman collects it from them and ensures that the medicines are delivered in time. The Siliguri Metropolitan Police is able to cover the entire city through this mechanism.
To extend a helping hand
The project is not restricted to catering to the needs of Covid affected families only. “If someone has not tested positive for Covid but are living alone and are not able to go out, especially senior citizens, the physically handicapped or those facing difficulty moving around owing to the lockdown, we try to be inclusive in reaching out,” the CP added.
“We would like to create a sense of comfort and reduce the panic in people regarding accessing food and healthcare services. We are there to extend a helping hand and the people here have started trusting us. We want to live up to their expectations and do our best,” the CP confirmed.
Challenges of policing in the ‘new normal’
In these difficult times enforcing the restrictions during lockdown is challenging for the police force since there are many exemptions in place as well. “At times there are some humanitarian crises which do not fall under the exemptions, so we have to look after them as well,” said CP Sharma. “Moreover, many in the police force are getting affected due to Covid. We have to take care of the police force and ensure proper Covid appropriate protocols are followed by the police as well,” he added.
People are also made aware about Covid appropriate behavior and they are being constantly reinforced. “Thankfully most people are much more aware during the second wave. They have realized the importance of maintaining hygiene and taking precautions. They are appreciating the government guidelines and they are voluntarily cooperating with the administration. This helps in breaking the chain and controlling the spread of the infection,” CP Sharma remarked.
Siliguri police is also engaged in providing humanitarian service to the people especially senior citizens, physically handicapped and children so that they do not suffer on any account. “It is a multi-pronged approach. We are doing whatever we can to address the challenges,” concluded CP Sharma.