In view of what happened in Mumbai, Bhaskar Rao IPS, Bangalore City Police Commissioner expresses his thoughts when the crisis emerged in Bangalore, prodding means on how to contain the virus while ensuring a friendly human touch is offered by the Bangalore Police.
Rao said, "These are abnormal times in which we are living. So nothing I can say is not my problem, everything is my problem now. So if anything goes out of hand, it becomes a law and order problem. When I saw the migrant problem in other big metros, I mustered my Deputy Commissioners and we put our heads together, started enlisting the places where migrants stay. This city has a lot of migrants from various parts of the country, more from the Northeast and northern parts of the nation. The population is huge, around 15 million, and 4 to 5 million migrants are staying here in Bengaluru."
Migrant evacuation model followed by Bangalore Police
Implementing a strategic plan of execution to avoid further chaos on streets with migrant labourers expressing agitation on the need to go back to their respective homes was a challenge. So every Deputy Commissioner in the city mapped out the number of migrants in his jurisdiction. "This helped the Bangalore police arrive at some approximate numbers in mind and then we found out where they were staying. We had an officer who used to go and visit them at least once a day to find out about their wellbeing if they are getting access to food, water, and other medicines or are they infected."
Now that the stage was set for communication with migrants, on May 4, when the Government of India (GoI) announced special trains to transport these migrants back to their respective hometowns, the job of police personnel became a little easier, because no other department in the government can take this huge responsibility.
Rao explains, "Each of my deputy commissioners was made in-charge of a train. They were the ones who took out these people from the labour camps, because there was a lot of agitation staged that I want to go home. We internally within the government, outside the government, in civil societies were deliberating if we should let the migrants go back home or stay here right there. Then we realized it's not an economical issue here but an emotional issue. So we decided to let them go, and to facilitate them as much as possible."
Execution strategy: Avoiding chaos and transporting migrants safely from labour camps to trains
Since the police had a very good rapport with the Bangalore metropolitan transport corporation, which is city's road transport corporation and with the civic authorities called Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the Bangalore city police and the railway police, our efforts were directed towards avoiding people spilling onto the streets.
"We conducted a very systematic operation with each train being allocated to one deputy commissioner in-charge, who would enroll all these migrants, pick them up by government buses from the labour camp, maintain social distancing practices and take them to undisclosed railway stations on the outskirts of the city because if we do it inside the city, a lot of chaos was anticipated as everyone was anxious to go home. So migrants were made to board trains from undisclosed railway stations and railway authorities were very supportive to send migrant labourers back home. Till today, 138 trains have left Bangalore and 175,000 migrant workers have been sent home by these trains."
Watch the full interview below: