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Beyond the line of duty: Maharashtra cops pitch in to help kin of deceased colleagues

Twenty-nine-year-old Kavita Mahale was on the brink of slipping into depression
By Vijay Kumar Yadav
UPDATED ON MAY 30, 2021 01:25 AM IST

Twenty-nine-year-old Kavita Mahale was on the brink of slipping into depression. She was not just worried about the futures of her two children, but was also facing difficulties in meeting daily their needs.

On March 25, Mahale lost her husband Sanjay – a constable posted with Nardana police station in Dhule – and her father-in-law to Covid-19. Her mother-in-law, too, had died from the virus last year and Mahale thus had no means of finding help.

However, to her respite, four policemen arrived at her home one day and gave her a cheque of 1.5 lakh for Mahale to meet the household expenses and other daily requirements till the time the family got the solatium from the government.

Mahale was overwhelmed by the act of generosity by her husband’s colleagues and batchmatees when she discovered that over a hundred of them had formed a WhatsApp group and collected the amount for the family through crowdfunding.

“After losing three members [of the family] within six months, I was completely broken. I was traumatised and worried about the futures of my two children. I lived under tremendous mental stress. But after my husband’s colleagues extended help and arranged some money, I felt that I am not alone. I was moved by their heart-warming gesture, and it certainly boosted the much-needed confidence in me. I got a feeling that there will always be a second family standing beside me,” she said.

Like Mahale, many grieving families of personnel who had died of the virus, received help from police groups that came forward during the crisis and are selflessly helping Covid-affected families of cops.

The constables from the 2008 batch raised funds for the families of two of their batchmates who had died of the virus. One of them was constable Murad Ali from Mahim police station, who was admitted to SevenHills Hospital on April 26, and succumbed to the virus on May 9. Ali was the sole breadwinner for the family. The other constable for whose family the batch collected money was Satyajeet Pol from Worli local arms division.

Soon after news of the Ali and Pol’s deaths spread across the police department, some constables from the batch jumped into action to help the families of the two Covid-19 victims.

“On learning about their deaths, a bunch of my batchmates and I decided to help the grieving families. We drafted a message and circulated it in eight WhatsApp groups of our batch, posted across various units in Maharashtra and sought help. There are 1,334 police personnel from our batch, of which hundreds of them transferred around 3.4 lakh in a span of 15 days. We will be handing over the cheques of 1.7 lakh each to the families on June 1” said constable Bhaghirath Andhale, a member of the batch, who works at the police hospital.

“By the time the family gets compensation from the government, this money would help them live with dignity and cut their dependability on others. And most importantly, the grieving families would feel that the friends of their late kin will always be there to look after them,” he added.

According to Andhale, the police personnel from their batch were inducted into the force on June 1, 2009, and thus, the group celebrates the day by organising a get-together.

“But as there is a health emergency, we all decided to do something to help the needy. We organised a blood donation camp [last year] and 276 constables from our batch donated blood that day,” said Andhale.

Another constable from the same group, Sharad Ilag, said, “Our batch members have been very helpful and generous amid the crisis. For a cause like blood donation, our batchmates travelled to Mumbai from towns such as Jalgaon, Sangli, Nashik, Kolhapur and Pune. These days, no one takes the pain to travel for over 500km for donating 300 grams of blood.” Ilag has roped in his wife, a nursing staff from King Edward Memorial Hospital, into the various initiatives of his batch.

Cops from this batch also helped fellow batchmates and their families when hit Kolhapur was hit by flood in 2019.

At Naigaon’s local arms division, constable Rehana Shaikh, apart from doing her duties as a police personnel, endeavoured to successfully arrange plasma for 54 Covid-19 patients, of which 32 were either cops or their families.

“Last year, while helping some colleagues in arranging an injection, I had shared my number with the Covid-19 helpline desk of the police department. Later, the helpdesk staff asked me to arrange injections or plasma for some more Covid-infected cops and I helped them. Later, whenever they would need urgent help, they used to call me. I always responded and used my contacts within and out of the department and ensured timely arrangement of donors and injections. This process worked so well that the helpline desk started calling me regularly, whenever they would exhaust their resources. I, too, felt good to help those in need,” said Shaikh.

She said that during this second wave of Covid-19, Twitter was flooded with SOS alerts, with requests for ICU (intensive care unit) beds, oxygen cylinders, Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, and other drugs for patients. “Many celebrities or public figures who have vast reach on social media were using their followers’ network to avail help for the needy. But a lower-ranked cop in the police department hardly has any presence on Twitter. But as I developed a network of healthcare activists and NGOs (non-governmental organisations), they made me a common platform and sent SOS alerts for urgent help. I tried helping as many as people as possible,” she said.

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