Fixation of an IG-rank officer in ensuring cent per cent attendance at Railway Police wing of DGP Headquarters in Signature at Lucknow has triggered a probable ‘corona bomb’ in the eight-storeyed building.
And the clock seems to be ticking fast as the building is visited daily by hundreds of officers and thousands of personnel of over 25 wings of the UP Police.
Despite DGP HC Awasthi’s strict instructions on running offices with 33 per cent staff in early April, increased later to 50 per cent in May, IG (Railways) SK Singh continued to direct all his subordinates to attend office without fail.
Interestingly, allaying staffers’ concern on getting infected, Singh is reported to have said, “Corona police walon ko nahi hoga’ (coronavirus will not infect police personnel). But his prophecy backfired on May 26 when a constable/driver, residing at GRP Lines at Charbagh, tested positive for coronavirus infection. The cop had been driving an official Tata Sumo and ferrying Railway Police personnel from Charbagh to Signature building.
In the next two days, some more of his colleagues in the GRP Lines tested positive. On Saturday, four cops at the IG’s office — confidential assistant (CA), chief record keeper (CRK) and two others — had to be quarantined.
Railway Police sources said that after the DGP’s circular, ADG (Railways) Sanjay Singhal implemented it in toto and gave directions down the line in this regard. But the IG continued to call every personnel of his 16-member staff to the office daily.
The IG office on the third floor has a CA, a CRK, a driver and a runner sitting in one room, while a reader, two sub-inspectors and two constables share another. In the latter case, all five sit in a 15x7 square feet room and social distancing is hardly ensured due to paucity of space.
Early in May, the DGP had also instructed that if any cop was stranded at some other place, he could report to the nearest district police lines or office of the wing concerned and continue to work there till the situation normalised. But throwing to winds the DGP’s directives, the IG called his CRK from Varanasi and a constable from Ghaziabad.
Sources said that CRK Ashok Kumar got stuck in Varanasi in the first week of May. As per the DGP’s orders, he reported to SSP, Varanasi and worked there for the next six days. On coming to know about it, the IG asked Kumar to return to Lucknow and join office. With no public transport running, Kumar rode a bike to the city and joined office.
Similarly, constable Rajesh Kumar was stranded in Ghaziabad and hence he joined the GRP Lines there after which he was put on station patrol duty. He too was ordered by the IG to return and resume duty in Lucknow. The poor cop had to reach Lucknow on a bike.
Even on Saturday, after the four staffers were quarantined, the senior official did not think it prudent to roster the schedule and ensured that all his staff attended office.
Asked to comment on the risk to the police personnel visiting Signature building daily, pulmonologist Dr Harendra Kumar said, “Each personnel visiting the building could be infected. They should isolate themselves for at least four-five days and watch out for symptoms. I would suggest, senior officers should ensure social distancing to say the least.”
Efforts to contact ADG (Railways) Sanjay Singhal for his version failed to yield result as his official cell phone was attended by a Railway Police Control Room staffer.