It was ‘duty first’ during Diwali for cops and firefighters in Mansa | punjab$bhatinda | Hindustan Times
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It was ‘duty first’ during Diwali for cops and firefighters in Mansa

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a twitter campaign – #sandesh2soldiers – to send Diwali greetings to army soldiers; cops and firefighters will be celebrating the festival on roads without such fanfare and family.

punjab Updated: Oct 31, 2016 16:01 IST
Mohammad Ghazali
Diwali
Diwali means more work in office for employees of the fire safety department. (HT Photo)

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a twitter campaign – #sandesh2soldiers – to send Diwali greetings to army soldiers; cops and firefighters will be celebrating the festival on roads without such fanfare and family.

“Duty comes first before anything else,” says young Avtar Singh, posted as muharrar head constable (MHC) at Sadar police station in Mansa. More than 500 cops, ranking from constable to assistant sub inspector, have been posted in the district to ensure a safe Diwali this year.

As we speak, Avtar is getting repeated calls from his wife to go for shopping but he is waits for his shift to get over.

“Even when my shift is over, I will be waiting to rejoin it within a couple of hours. Though my physical presence might cheer my family for some time, mentally I will be more concerned that soon I will get back to the police station,” he says.

Most of the cops have a similar story to tell. “During every festival and family functions, our absence only bitters the relationship. Tiered over my repeated absence from such gatherings, my son once sarcastically asked me whether I have been promoted as the director general of police (DGP),” said another cop.

During Diwali, a constable deployed on ground, works in a 12-hour shift. “For everyone else, it is a festival but for us it turns out to be a nightmare. Normally, we can negotiate our holiday with our seniors. But in the festive season, even our families have stopped insisting us to stay back at home because all the holidays are cancelled,” said another policeman.

Assistant sub inspector Gurtej Singh has been in service for the last 27 years and has hardly celebrated Diwali with his family. “It is the same with most of the senior officers as well. Diwali without family has become a routine affair for us,” he says.

The story of firefighters is no different. Plagued with staff shortage and substandard equipment, firefighters are always on their toes during Diwali.

“We have four firemen, three drivers and one operational fire fighting vehicle. We work in rotational shifts. Since April this year we have attended around 150 fire incidents in the district,” said district fire officer Raj Kumar.

Nazar Singh has been serving in the department for the last 22 years. He says ensuring safety during the festive season gives him the same joy as celebrating Diwali with the family. “We are always on alert to avoid any mishap. Reaching the destination is what keeps us on our toes.”

The employees complain that despite being in the safety department, the government has done little for them. “We don’t have a permanent office. The staff shortage is such that once we go out to the spot; there is no one in the office to attend phone calls. Recently Anil Joshi, minister for the local bodies, distributed around 22 firefighting vehicles to some districts. Mansa was ignored once again despite our repeated requests,” said Raj Kumar.