Cases started emerging in the Maharashtra police in the second week of April. On May 6, the count reached 500, crossed 1,000 on May 14, 2,000 on May 28 and the 3,000 mark on June 7.
The number of coronavirus cases in the Maharashtra police crossed 4,000 on Sunday. While over 1,000 of the total are active cases, 47 police personnel have succumbed to the infection till now.
On Saturday, 88 new cases were reported in the Maharashtra police, taking the number to 4,048 as on Sunday morning. Of the total cases, more than 2,400 are from Mumbai police alone, of which 31 police offices have died till now. At least 720 are from the State Reserve Police (SRPF) units across Maharashtra. Of the 1,001 active cases in Maharashtra police, 118 are officers and 883 are constables.
“While more and more personnel are recovering every day, deaths remain a concern. In most of the cases, police officers with comorbidities have succumbed to the disease. It is being made sure at the highest level that there is a continuous supply of all the safety gear and utilities. There are clear instructions to make sure there is least possible public contact. But a large section of our force continues to be deployed for Covid-related duties, including at hospitals, quarantine centres and containment zones – all of which are high risk tasks,” said an officer from Maharashtra police headquarters.
Cases started emerging in the Maharashtra police in the second week of April. On May 6, the count reached 500, crossed 1,000 on May 14, 2,000 on May 28 and the 3,000 mark on June 7. With close to 1.3 lakh cases, Maharashtra remains the worst affected state in the country with its state police the worst affected police force in the country.
Of the 720 cases in the SRPF, more than 630 have already recovered. The SRPF reported its first death on Sunday, with a sub-inspector with the SRPF unit at Jalna succumbing to the infection, officials said.
From the beginning, the major portion of the total caseload of Maharashtra police has been from local police personnel in Mumbai, its surrounding areas, Nashik district’s Malegaon city or the personnel of the Maharashtra SRPF deployed in these high risk areas and who were later repatriated to their home units.
The SRPF units based in Aurangabad, Hingoli, Jalna, Daund and Pune have been most affected. A significant number of cases has also been found among police personnel in Thane, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Solapur and the Mumbai Railway jurisdiction. At least 7,500 police personnel are in home or institutional quarantine as high risk contacts of those who have tested positive.
The Indian Express has reported that the two lakh strong Maharashtra police force is increasingly facing the issue of multiple police units having to be partly or entirely quarantined when some officers test positive and the responsibilities of the affected units have to be given to other units.
As a precautionary measure, as many as 23,000 police personnel between 50 and 55 years of age are being given low-risk police station tasks while 12,000 more, who are above 55 years, have been asked to stay home. Duties at checkpoints now have shorter durations. More than 11,000 state home guard personnel have been deployed to ensure that police jurisdictions with Covid-affected areas do not fall short of manpower. On May 13, the state government had asked the Union Home Ministry to deploy 20 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces in the state.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, the Maharashtra police has been doing contact tracing of Covid-positive persons, monitoring home or institutional quarantine and helping in implementing the nationwide lockdown, closure of containment zones, district boundaries, issuing travel permits and facilitating homeward journeys of stranded labourers, students and others. As the restrictions have been lifted, the crime figures across the state have seen a significant rise as compared to the lockdown period.
Dedicated quarantine facilities and dedicated hospitals have been marked for police personnel at various places and a Covid helpline has also been set up. Healthcare aid is being given through the Maharashtra Police family insurance scheme, officials said.