Police rise to the occasion in heatstroke tragedy | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Police rise to the occasion in heatstroke tragedy

Apr 18, 2023 01:08 AM IST

The Kharghar police department in Maharashtra, India, has been praised for its efforts during a heatstroke tragedy at an event held on Sunday. Officers helped distribute water and snacks to attendees, many of whom had arrived without provisions, and assisted in transporting the sick to medical care. The police force had been working since Friday to prepare for the event, and many were showing signs of exhaustion. Despite this, officers worked tirelessly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those present.

NAVI MUMBAI: The death toll in the heatstroke tragedy that marred the Maharashtra Bhushan award ceremony in Kharghar on Sunday could have mounted further had it not been for the efforts put in by the Kharghar police department. Going beyond the line of duty, it was the men in khaki who emerged as heroes minus the capes.

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HT Image

Even as people were vomiting and falling unconscious, it was the efforts put in by the police department that got citizens’ attention. A video of Rajiv Shejwal, a senior police inspector of Kharghar, manually lifting a 20-litre water bottle and distributing it to people has gone viral. “The incident, though tragic, has demonstrated the humane side of the police,” said social activist Kiran Patil. “I was present at the venue, and all around I could only see people in a miserable state. It was amidst this that police officials rose to the occasion.”

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Senior inspector Shejwal said he only did his duty. “The people at the venue had come with deep devotion for their guru,” he said. “Most of them had arrived a day in advance, and in their attempt to be the closest to their leader, they didn’t think of making provisions for water or even to attend Nature’s call. By the end of the event, people started falling unconscious, and I realised that their primary and very urgent requirement was water. Since the stock of small bottles provided for the police force was over, I arranged for bigger bottles and got them personally distributed. My colleagues also handed out snacks meant for the team.”

The entire Navi Mumbai police force had been working since Friday, and many were showing signs of exertion and fatigue. “Most of the senior officials were present at the venue and helping the public in whichever way possible,” said police inspector Shatrughan Mali. “They too were exhausted owing to lack of sleep, as since Friday, we were preparing for the event with trial runs and drills. A senior police inspector, earlier attached to the Nerul Sagari police station, called in sick on Monday. There will be many more constables and inspectors who are likely to experience the after-effects, but on Sunday each of us stood strong.”

Mali recounted the timely steps taken by his colleagues. “Since the place was extremely crowded, ambulances or cars were unable to come to the aid of those falling ill,” he said. “People were collapsing like a pack of cards. So the next best option was to transport them on bikes and scooters. We moved the women and the elderly to the nearest shaded area on two-wheelers.”

Vimal Bidave, a woman traffic inspector, showed similar presence of mind and ensured that vehicles transporting patients did not get caught in traffic. “I was entrusted with piloting and so I was on the outskirts of the venue,” she said. “There were a few people driving on the wrong side of the road to ensure that heatstroke victims reached hospital on time, and that was fine.”

DCP Pankaj Dahane said he was proud that each and every officer performed in spite of being on duty for 36 hours without a break. “There were officers ferrying people on two-wheelers, assisting the medical team in picking up those who had collapsed, and Shejwal arranged for vans with water to reach inside the venue,” he said. “Such actions show the sensitive side of the police and restore people’s faith in the force.”

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