Delhi: Major towns and streets across India could be seen deserted due to lockdown but Delhi’s Jamia Nagar still presents a rare but encouraging scene despite being deserted.
At least 85 men are busy patrolling the streets on rotational basis here, to ensure that people stay indoors and the lockdown is enforced effectively.
Wearing face masks and carrying sticks, they are not policemen but volunteers from Samaj Sudhar Trust- an NGO- leading from the front to enforce lockdown and prevent the COVID-19 community spread here.
“The main purpose of patrolling the streets is to prevent the community spread by ensuring that people stay indoors,” said Sujaat, heading the team of volunteers in Okhla Vihar.
“Sometimes we have to deal with people sternly, who roam on roads without any purpose. But in all situations whatsoever, we make it a point that people stay indoors.” he added.
The pandemic has left more than 29 lakh people infected and caused 203,796 deaths globally, so far, despite a lockdown.
More than 1.30 billion people in India continue to be in a lockdown since March 24. The lockdown was recently extended till May 3, in an unprecedented effort to prevent COVID-19 spread at community level.
The NGO’s prime focus though has been relentless fight against drug abuse but currently it has used all its’ manpower to contain the disease from spreading further.
Given the fact that people in Delhi are not used to spending enough time indoors, this job is not a cakewalk for the volunteers as some people venture out of their homes without a valid reason.
“We get into a verbal brawl with people at times but with the help of police, we manage to pacify the situation. In wake of the fact that police are overburdened with duty, we decided to patrol this area to help police enforce lockdown.” said Shujaat.
Notably, the entire world is grappling to deal with the pandemic, which started with an outbreak from China’s Wuhan city in December last year.
The locals appreciate the volunteers.
“They are doing a commendable job. Sadly, some people take an offence to their presence on streets but we all must understand that they are doing it for a larger good cause and we should encourage them.” said Zahid Ahmad, a local.
Many videos showing policemen beating people for lockdown violations recently went viral on social media. In such circumstances, volunteers’ contribution can not be overlooked. Police too acknowledges their role in these trying times.
“Their presence on the streets has made job very easy for us. We are in a better position to make people understand the gravity of the situation.” Station Head Officer, K P Malik, told Curtain Raiser.
“It is good to see them taking up the responsibility in prevailing situation.
When a man in uniform tells a person to abide by the law, he often takes otherwise. NGO’s support has come handy in making people aware of importance of lockdown,” he said.
Stressing on the need for a robust public-government relationship, Malik added, “It is a must to help each other and implement lockdown properly, or else look forward to a disaster.”
What makes Sujaat a little relieved is the fact that there is almost no case of drug abuse in Okhla Vihar, but negligence of some people not staying in their homes and choosing to ignore face masks worries him.
“We can not simply ignore family responsibilities. We take a short break to buy essentials for our families. We continue to patrol streets till late evening or as per the situation.”
As Covid-19 cases in India have reached 26,496 despite lockdown in India, the government is taking all the possible steps to prevent its’ spread.
Some experts believe that lockdown alone can not help in preventing the spread but aggressive testing will help combat it.
At present 625,309 tests are being done throughout the country, which accounts for 453 people per million.