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Worried how your old parents in Kolkata are doing in lockdown? Just call the cops

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An elderly Kolkata woman and a rickshaw puller seen on a deserted Kolkata street amid the shutdown | Representational image | ANI
An elderly woman and a rickshaw puller seen on a deserted Kolkata street amid the shutdown | Representational image | ANI


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Kolkata: Police in the West Bengal capital are not just making sure the coronavirus lockdown is not violated, they are doing all they can to help the city’s aged get by with minimal difficulty.

From delivering essentials to accompanying them on dialysis appointments, the Kolkata Police is on its toes trying to ease the distress of the elderly who live alone. 

Elderly residents of the city, or their worried children living outside Kolkata, can just leave a message on the police helpline under Pranam — an exclusive Kolkata Police initiative for the assistance of senior citizens — or social media, and help will arrive.

“I am a happy man today to see that my force has become an expert at multitasking… We have set up a special call centre and have a special number to cater to the needs of senior citizens,” Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma said.  

“Apart from the 25,000 members registered with the Pranam initiative, we are serving all the unregistered people too. One just needs to reach us through a phone call or social media message,” he added. “People from the respective police station will be there to help them.” 


Also Read: IAS officer’s wife, professor, ex-MP — Bengal’s Covid-19 ‘rumour factory’ a club of elites


Left helpless

According to a 2015 report based on Census 2011 figures, Kolkata has a higher share of over-60-year-olds than any other metropolitan city. With many youngsters leaving the city to look for jobs elsewhere in India or abroad, a vast chunk of this population is believed to be living alone.

The national lockdown that kicked in 25 March to check the spread of coronavirus has left few shops open, taken public transport off the roads, and restricted the movement of domestic helps, causing all manner of problems for the elderly.

“We are completely alone. There is no one to take care of us. We are helpless amid the lockdown,” said Ranadhir Majumdar, a 78-year-old resident of south Kolkata who lives with his wife, 70. The couple’s two sons work in Mumbai. 

“We used to have an aaya (assistant) and a domestic help. However, since the lockdown was announced, neither of them is coming,” he added. “We have become our own help and cook. My wife cooks and I wash the utensils. We both wash our clothes together… At this age, it is difficult for us to live like this, but there is no option left,” he said. 

While the other struggles remain, the couple is grateful to have the assistance of Kolkata Police, whose personnel fetch them groceries, medicines and vegetables. 

Talking to ThePrint, Majumdar said they called police when they realised they might run out of medicines they need to eat daily.

“We called up the helpline number of Kolkata Police and requested the supplies. We had nothing left, we also needed our medicines… and we take those daily,” he added. “Since then, the personnel at Gariahat police station deliver everything we need. They regularly check on us too,” he said.

Malati Dey, a 75-year-old who lives alone near Park Street in central Kolkata, said she contacted police when she ran out of all food items — groceries and vegetables. 

After her distress call, a team of two police personnel spoke to her and delivered the items she required. 

Police commissioner Sharma described the initiative as the “biggest success we have achieved”, saying police personnel’s participation in the exercise was voluntary and not by force.


Also Read: ‘Mishti essential for Bengalis’ — after appeal to Mamata, sweet shops to run for 4 hours daily  


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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