Villagers in Punjab wage war against Covid-19

Chandigarh, April 8 (IANS) People in the areas of Punjab have shown the way to fight and contain Covid-19 amid the stringent curfew restrictions through self-isolation, while ensuring smooth movement of essentials.
Officials said 7,842 people in 13,240 villages have self-isolated themselves to check the spread of the pandemic.
The Village Police Officers or VPOs, who were recently appointed by Punjab Police as part of its unique ‘One Cop for One Village’ scheme, are playing a pivotal role in the facilitating the self-isolation.
Villagers have joined hands with the police to observe voluntary lockdown and assist police patrolling parties in restricting movement and preventing the entry of any unauthorised person to their village.
Only those carrying curfew passes or essential services are allowed entry into the villages, which have constituted special isolation teams that helped the police in the initial stage of curfew sensitising the rural masses on the need for tight restrictions, an official told IANS.
Interestingly, drug peddling in these villages has reduced significantly due to the presence of village watchers, an incidental but welcome side-effect of the self-isolation.
This is because the villagers recognise one another and can immediately identify any trouble-maker, said Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta.
The self-isolation exercise began in the early stages of the lockdown when village Panchayats were motivated by police officers to enforce the curfew restrictions.
They were apprised about the benefit of voluntary village sealing in controlling the spread of coronavirus.
Responding positively to the persuasion, villagers started blocking the entry points and setting up ‘nakas’ to control movement.
Social media campaigns also helped in motivating self-isolation.
The VPOs then took over to become the bridge between the villagers and the supply chain of essential items and urgent medical services, said the DGP.
The DGP said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has extended his appreciation for the role played by the VPOs in ensuring self-isolation of these villages, which have formed committees to effectively manage the self-isolation.
The committees include the sarpanch, pradhan and ward panch of the village, with the VPOs staying in regular contact with the houses through a WhatsApp group that includes village and ward committee members.
These committees are facilitated by the local police in ensuring regular supply of essentials, such as medicine and food, as well as supply of fodder and animal feed into the villages.
Veterinarians are allowed to visit into these self-isolated villages. Lifting of milk from villages by cooperative Verka and others is also being facilitated.
In Amritsar city, all 25 villages have voluntarily locked down, while in Amritsar (rural) 158 of 840 villages are in self-isolation.

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