Police to aid, not replace, health staff: CM

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday defended his decision to deploy the police to aid frontl-ine health workers to combat the COVID-19 pandemic better.

He attacked the United Democratic Front (UDF) for accusing the government of having imposed a ‘police raj’ in Kerala. Without mentioning the UDF by name, Mr. Vijayan said some persons had a “peculiar mindset.”

“They want the civil defence against the virus to collapse. They have repeatedly schemed for such a disastrous outcome. They give no value to the sacrifices of those on the front line of the battle against the pandemic. They have no care for the risk the public faces daily. They have no constructive criticism to offer. They just spread false tales. In time, they will slump under the weight of their lies,” he said.

Police duties

Mr. Vijayan said the police would enforce the rules on wearing masks and physical distancing stringently. They would check on households in quarantine. They would deploy their investigative expertise and technical prowess to trace primary and secondary contacts of infected persons.

He said the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had wrongly assumed that the police would usurp the functioning of the medical fraternity.

“That is not the case. They would bolster the efforts of health workers not supplant them,” he said.

Mr. Vijayan said the police were empowered to take steps to prevent the spread of the disease. “Make no mistake. The police have the legal authority to prevent activities that could escalate the transmission of the virus. We need to curtail all activities that might contribute to the spread of the disease,” he said. He also brushed aside accusations that his decision to throw the law enforcement in the vanguard of the battle against COVID-19 had caused disgruntlement in the force. The police had assigned a sub-inspector in all station houses to track the disease transmission pattern. Motorcycle brigades would patrol containment localities relentlessly. The police had intensified checking of vehicles. Kerala had curbed the spread of the virus better than many developed nations. However, the Opposition appeared intent on tarnishing its image.

The police have the legal authority to prevent activities that can escalate virus transmission.

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