TODAY -

Satisfactory role of police in pandemic era
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: October 21, 2021 -



WITHOUT an iota of doubt, the Covid-19 situation in the state would have been far worse than it is today had the police personnel not strictly enforced the restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic.

While role of police in a restive state like Manipur was mainly confined to its dictated duties for maintaining law and order, protecting the VIPs and countering threat from unlawful elements, outbreak of the contagious disease made the men and women in uniform equally susceptible as the common citizens for their task was tackling an invisible but widely spread enemy.

Though there were reports of duty negligence, especially during onset of the second wave, by a handful of personnel, their overall performance and contribution towards keeping the pandemic situation under control was rightly commended at the 130th Raising Day of Manipur Police celebrated on Tuesday which was dominated by chief minister N Biren showering praises on the police force for their relentless efforts in saving lives and preventing the pandemic situation from causing serious damages.

Apart from their conventional duties, the pandemic posed a formidable challenge to the police to live up to the expectation of sane citizens as well as diligently follow government's periodical orders to restrict or relax public movement and activities.

After every lockdown/curfew order, police teams were tasked to aggressively enforce social distancing through vehicle and foot patrolling, and set up vehicular checkpoints to detain and penalise violators.

These techniques were all under conventional law and order paradigm, and engrained into the training and organisational culture of the police. In practical terms, lock-down enforcement meant effective crowd control measures centring on swift and aggressive action to take control of public places and convincing the general population that adhering to safety protocols is for the good of all the citizens.

Across the world, non-medical interventions of social'distancihg, quarantine and lockdown were adopted to prevent transmission of the disease by contact with some countries, including India forced to deploy the police round the clock to enforce public health laws.

On various occasions, police crackdowns were viewed from different perspectives with some alleging abuse of power whereas others justified police action citing public arrogance and ignorance as compulsion for the police to use force.

However, there is general consensus that the efforts of the police did help in averting possible wildfire-like transmission of the highly infectious disease during the second wave.

While healthcare service providers were the ultimate saviours, their task was made relatively easier as use of the police for non-medical interventions helped reduce the spread of the disease in the country.

In the state's context, when shootouts, including fake encounters, used to be daily affairs during the peak of insurgency, the police were branded as the culprits.

However, such general narrative has changed to a great extent in the last few years and public affection for the police increased especially after the onset of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, as stated by chief minister Biren at the raising day event the police need to sustain dedicated and disciplined services towards maintaining law and order and welfare of the public at large.

If the police give up the concept that no commoner could be relied upon then it is but natural that all sections of society would respect and honour police personnel and realise importance of their existence and services.

Thus, there would be real improvement in the law and order situation in the state only when there is healthier camaraderie between the police and the public, with the former leading from the front.



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