The second wave of the pandemic in India, caused by the Delta variant, caught global attention and brought unparalleled hardship and suffering to India – leading to over 200,000 deaths between March and June 2021. In early August this year, the country reported weekly rises in case rates for the first time since May, foreshadowing a third wave of outbreaks. Even as the pandemic ravaged economies and communities, work-from-home quickly became routine for large sections of society. The “new normal” emerged as an enduring cliché to describe the status quo. However, as much as things changed for many, the more they stayed the same for some. In India, frontline workers (FLWs) were not only required to continue their usual responsibilities but also found their task load exponentially increased as cases surged across the country.
While the selfless sacrifices of healthcare workers are rightly acknowledged, the steadfast contributions of law enforcement are sometimes overlooked. In the Indian context, law enforcement –i.e., police and paramilitary forces—faced unique and unprecedented challenges during the pandemic. They were required to enforce what was likely the world’s most stringent lockdown all while securing India’s vast State elections. The particular unit that I command, the 9th battalion of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), is located in Amravati, a city where the Delta mutation was first detected and is widely acknowledged as the starting point of the second wave.
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Image courtesy of Flickr. Originally published by S&S on Oct. 4, 2021.