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Coronavirus | When the police played peacemaker in COVID-19 wards

The Nizamuddin area in March after the Tablighi Jamaat centre was evacuated.  

In a report compiled by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), the Maharashtra police have cited an incident in Malegaon in April where the police had to persuade doctors to treat all patients equally as the “doctors feared that treating patients from Muslim areas could infect their hospitals”.

The BPR&D, the police think tank of the Union Home Ministry, has published a report, “Indian police response to COVID-19 crisis”, where it sought contributions from the State police and the Central armed police forces (CAPF).

Also read: Five months on, Tablighi Jamaat cases become diplomatic headache for government

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition which has said that certain sections of the print and electronic media were spreading bigotry and communal hatred in relation to the Tablighi Jamaat conference held in the Nizamuddin Markaz area in March. The petition said the “unfortunate incident of the Tablighi Jamaat was used to demonise and blame the entire Muslim community”.

On March 28, the Ministry wrote to all States that around 2,000 Tablighis from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and other countries who entered India on tourist visa appeared to be “potential carriers” of COVID-19.

Also read: Tablighi Jamaat and COVID-19: The story so far

‘Clinics were shut’

In the BPR&D report, Superintendent of Police, Malegaon, Sunil D. Kadasne said his knowledge of languages such as Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Arabic, English and Madari Jaban (a local dialect of Malegaon) helped him establish a bridge between the people and the administration. He said that after he took charge in May, a “silent communal divide” was seen with Hindu patients being treated in Mahatma Gandhi Vidya Mandir and Muslim patients in Badi Malegaon High School.

He said Unani doctors were recruited as there was a shortage of allopathic doctors and there was prejudice in the mind of Muslim patients that Hindu doctors were not treating them. “Clinics were closed as the IMA [Indian Medical Association] and doctors feared that admitting COVID-positive patients from Muslim areas would infect their hospitals,” he said, adding that he persuaded the doctors to treat all patients with zeal and compassion, irrespective of religion.

The Chandigarh police said that after the news of spread of COVID infection during religious congregation held in New Delhi came to the fore, “participants of the congregation residing in Chandigarh were identified and subjected to health protocol”.

It said that due to personal connect of the police with Muslim religious leaders, the latter decided not to visit mosques and cemeteries to observe Shab-e-Baraat on April 9 and 10.

Influx of migrants

The Bihar police said an influx of huge number of Bihari migrants from other States created unique problems for Bihar but despite severe resource constraints, the police rose to the occasion.

The report mentioned that till August 21, 76,768 police and CAPF personnel tested positive and 401 personnel died. The highest number of personnel who were infected and died was reported in Maharashtra — 12,760 were infected and 129 died.

A countrywide lockdown was first imposed on March 24 and was extended subsequently till June. From June, phase-wise opening of various sectors was allowed.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 11:24:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-when-the-police-played-peacemaker-in-covid-wards/article32828630.ece

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