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Going well beyond the call of duty

The investigating officer in a case of accident had given his personal ATM card to the hospital staff in Bilaspur, asking them to start treating the victims at the earliest and bill his card.

gurgaon Updated: Apr 27, 2019 23:42 IST
Pavneet Singh Chadha
Pavneet Singh Chadha
Gurugram
duty,cops,police
Last week, two 19-year-old men, including a Class 12 student, were killed and three others injured in a crash on National Highway-48 near Bilaspur. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

Last week, two 19-year-old men, including a Class 12 student, were killed and three others injured in a crash on National Highway-48 near Bilaspur. The victims were on their way from Delhi to Jaipur for a birthday party, but their car rammed another vehicle in front of them and then hit a divider.

The five victims were rushed to a private hospital in Bilaspur for treatment. Two of the victims were referred to another private hospital in Manesar, where they died during treatment. The police said they did not want to lose crucial minutes waiting for an ambulance and scrambled three cars to take the victims to the hospital.

While reporting on the case, I found that the investigating officer in the case had given his personal ATM card to the hospital staff in Bilaspur, asking them to start treating the victims at the earliest and bill his card. “The condition of the victims was serious and we did not want any delay. We were unable to get in touch with the families of the victims at the time. So, I gave my ATM card to the hospital authorities and asked them to start treatment,”ASI Mahesh (known by his first name) said. The police said that families took care of the medical expenses later.

In my reporting experience, I have noticed several such cases of policemen going beyond the call of duty and incurring such medical expenses on behalf of the victims’ families. The policemen have to wait for several months to get a reimbursement for these expenses due to administrative delay and paperwork. Sometimes, the investigating officials (head constables, assistant sub-inspectors, sub inspectors), who work long demanding hours on meagre salaries, do not even claim such expenses, attributing it to extension of duty.

Last year, in a hit-and-run case in the city, a 25-year-old taxi driver died. His family, from Delhi, did not have the money to pay the ambulance driver and tried pleading with him to waive the charges. An ASI, noticing the commotion at the mortuary, paid ₹500 to the ambulance driver to carry the body to back to his house. When I asked him if he would be reimbursed, he said that he would not claim the payment. “It is a small amount. The victim’s family is poor and has just suffered a tragedy. This is the least I can do,” he said.

Recently, an under-construction building collapsed in Ullawas village and seven people, trapped underneath the debris, died. When a colleague called the DC, explaining that a family was unable to bear the expenses for carrying three of the deceased to their village in Uttar Pradesh, the DC’s office had remitted Rs 55,000 immediately from the social welfare fund to help them out. Such incidents affirm that policemen, often vilified for their heavy-handed approach and apathy, can and do lend a helping hand and go the extra mile for the common man.

(Pavneet Singh Chadha is a reporter with the Gurugram bureau who covers crime)

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 23:42 IST