BHOPAL: The dawn was struggling through the cloudy August sky. A group of policemen stood benumbed, bowing their heads, at the Shahjahanbad police station in the state capital. Their eyes streamed tears, for had they lost one of their dear colleagues, assistant sub-inspector Ansar Ahmad, who fell prey to the coronavirus after fighting the stealthy killer for more than ten days. He was the first policeman in the state capital to have lost his life fighting the virus. When Ahmad was afflicted with the disease, he was on duty. Despite feeling uneasy, he continued to work, as it was duty’s call.
His being diagnosed with the coronavirus came as a bolt of lightning for his family. Ahmad quarantined himself, but that was not sufficient for him to survive. As his condition deteriorated, he was rushed to a hospital on July 24, and the struggle between life and death began. And it was on for almost ten days.
Because of Ahmad’s uprightness and good behaviour, prayers for his recovery started in a nearby temple, as well as in a mosque. Although he breathed his last fighting the disease on August 5, he scripted an extraordinary story for his family and colleagues. Ahmad knew that, for a policeman, there cannot be anything more honourable than dying in uniform.
For the colleagues of Ahmad, his passing away came as a bolt from the blue. The loss upset them so much so that it turned out to be a challenge for the cops at Shahjahanabad police station to work. Ten other cops of the same police station were diagnosed as corona-positive. Most of the policemen were under depression, as they were unable to meet their family members for a long time. They were doing their duty and stood by each other in that hour of crisis. Senior officers of the department began to counsel the policemen deployed around the containment zones in the city. It boosted their morale.
In the meantime, another cop, 52-year-old Mohan Gaur, was also afflicted with the virus. As his condition deteriorated, he was rushed to a hospital. That led to low energy among the already fatigued and exhausted cops. Gaur, however, overwhelmed the virus and slipped back into normal and everyday life.
Today, the cops recall how the Marghatiya temple in Shahjahanabad supported them. The priest of the temple sent them tea, milk and eatables which were in scarcity in those days.
Station house officer Zaheer Khan says losing a brother-like colleague is not easy to endure. “We had to bear the loss with a heavy heart. Tears were trickling down our cheeks as we were bidding adieu to Ahmad. Yet, his loss had made us grittier than we were to fight down the virus. We shall defeat it,” Khan says. He says all the policemen maintained social-distancing norms.
Khan recalls how the head priest of the temple, Mahant Kanhaiya Das Maharaj, used to visit the police station and deliver religious discourses to keep everyone cheerful.
City superintendent of police (CSP) of Shahjahanabad Nagendra Pateriya says it was a critical phase, but he tried his best to keep the cops cheerful and healthy. The temple’s bond with the police station grew in that hour of crisis, he says. He adds that public support was tremendous and they congratulated the policemen for working round the clock.
Now, the family members of Ahmad are slowly getting reconciled to the irreparable loss that they suffered. His son, Adnan Ahmad, has been given a job in the police department. Adnan says it was an unusual time when many ordinary people did extraordinary deeds. Then, he philosophically sums up: “Life’s unpredictable! My father’s one of those who responded instinctively and courageously to that. He’s my role model.”