‘This is my time to do duty and give back to society’
Top athletes talk to HT about their experience of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is Ajay Thakur, the captain of the bronze medal-winning Indian kabaddi team at the 2018 Asian Games. A Deputy Superintendent of Police, Thakur also plays in the Pro Kabaddi League.Updated: Apr 23, 2020 16:30 IST
I am posted as a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) at Bilaspur District in Himachal Pradesh. Initially when the lockdown was announced and section 144 was imposed, people were in panic with everything shutting down. No one had faced anything like this. People wanted to figure out what was happening and at that point, we as cops had to find ways and means to make sure that people stayed calm.
Fake news makes it very difficult for us. There were some messages doing the rounds that the police will arrest people roaming in the streets for up to six months, which wasn’t the case. We only wanted to make sure that our community understood the situation and followed protocols. It was tricky in the beginning, but now things have settled.
There is always a section of people who make it unnecessarily difficult for the governance and system to maintain peace. People with various kinds of addictions—buyers as well as sellers—try to create ruckus by not following protocols and going out in groups. Sometimes, the police has to resort to lathi charge.
I’ve come across some videos that portray cops as being violent, but that’s not the case. When you are on the ground, you realise it is being done as the last resort. Imagine a cop putting his own and his family’s health at risk, working long shifts to make sure people are safe and then find such miscreants who don’t improve despite warnings.
The area I am in, which is Bilaspur, there are no cases as yet. Himachal Pradesh has very few cases till now. Sometimes my family keeps warning me of the challenges and risks of exposing myself to the virus. It takes time to make them understand but they respect my duty and hence let me do it to my best capacity.
I could think that I’m a sportsperson of this country and take some time off my duty till the situation gets better, but my well-wishers stood by me during bad times and this is my time to do my duty and give back to my society.
We have gone to every street in our area and have been educating people about social distancing and why it is important to follow this. As a kabaddi player, I have been reaching out to people and creating awareness in my personal capacity as well.
Every morning I spend time exercising to keep myself fit. Additionally, as a DSP, we go on rounds daily which involves hours of walking to make sure everything is in order. That also allows me to stay fit as I believe walking is one of the best forms of exercise.
(As told to Abhishek Paul)