– Story by Ahmed Saeed.
With the lockdown, people have been pushed back inside their homes. No one wants to risk being outdoors, for fear of contracting the coronavirus. Yet those who battle it out everyday, outside the comfort of their homes, outside the bounds of safety, are none others than our heroes – doctors, sanitary workers, journalists, the police. All of them are risking their lives every day, only in order to protect the public from the deadly disease in the air. Voicepk.net pays tribute to these people, as everyday they are ON THE FRONTLINES.
Sub Inspector Sami Ullah, 41, stops a rickshaw at a police picket located on Lahore’s main canal road near Doctor’s hospital. On an ordinary day, this would have been no crime: riding a rickshaw with passengers. But today, under lockdown, the driver has violated the rules announced by the Government.
Yet the driver becomes instantly aggressive as if he has been wanting to lash out at someone. Without even hearing what Sami Ullah has to say to him, he begins to curse the police and accuse them of snatching his livelihood.
Since the city has been incomplete lockdown now, and Section 144 imposed to restrict traveling and congregations, Sami Ullah has become used to this type of behavior from the public.
“People need to understand that we are compelling them to sit at home for their own safety,” he says. “I know some people really need to step outside of their homes to make ends meet but unfortunately, we can’t even allow them this in these circumstances.”
NOT AN EASY TASK
Besides social distancing and travel restrictions, the Government has also urged citizens to maintain social distancing to curb the spread of the deadly virus. But, for police, who are on the frontlines, it is not an easy task to practice social distancing themselves. Their job requires coming into contact with a large number of people every day and check their documents, making them some of the most vulnerable people to get infected.
Still, they try their best.
“We are not only preaching people to avoid gatherings and take precautions, we are also practicing it ourselves. The department has given us gloves, masks, and hand sanitizers to protect ourselves,” Sami Ullah told Voicepk.net.
Like medics, the police are also overburdened during this unprecedented situation. Sami Ullah’s duty time has been stretched to 16 hours a day. After spending eight hours at the picket, he has to visit his police station to take a look at the cases, he is currently investigating as an investigation officer.
In all this, Sami Ullah’s family is suffering the most as he has been unable to spare some time to spend with his loved ones.
“I have four children – one daughter and three sons- but since this ‘corona duty’ started, I hardly have time to give them attention. I leave for duty even before my children wake up and by the time I reach home at night, they are already in bed sleeping,” he says.
But on the other hand, Sami Ullah thinks that the lesser he is in contact with his family nowadays, the better it is. It is a blessing in disguise as he may only just take the disease home to them.
Despite all these difficulties and vulnerability, Sami Ullah is not worried about anything else but just hopes that life will be back to normalcy soon.
“Look, this is our job and we have to do our duty for the country and those who live in it. We were here for it and if God wills, we will be here to serve it.”
AN OATH TO BE REMEMBERED
Sami Ullah is not the only one who has been maintaining an impressive record of following guidelines. His subordinate, Constable Nadeem Ahmed also shares the same high spirits.
“When I joined Punjab police I swore that I would lay my life for the country and we (Police officials) must be ready to do our duty anytime, anywhere.”
Like other parents, Ahmed’s ones are also worried about his health and regularly advise him to take as many precautions as he can.
“My parents consider me a hero because they think I am protecting other people’s lives,” said Ahmed speaking to Voicepk.net. “But at the same time, I am only endangering my own.”
Ahmed knows that the public is irked when he asks them to return home from halfway but he thinks this is the only way to fight the pandemic.
“When I ask people to go back home, they usually get upset and some of them even start quarreling with me. Of course, I understand what they mean, they are right to feel frustrated, but I explain to them that we (the police) have no issues with them roaming around outside. But in order to fight this invisible disease, everyone needs to stay homes.”