Image used for representational purpose
MUMBAI: The families of 45 cops who lost their lives to Covid-19 have been granted a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each by the Mumbai Police Foundation. But after losing their breadwinner, the struggle has only begun for several families with many of the children still studying and having to look after younger siblings. The sons of some of the deceased policemen have applied for jobs in the department but there are other worries hounding them such as having to look for accommodation.
HSC student Suyash Parte, 18, had been awaiting his exam results more desperately than any of his classmates. Suyash’s father, constable Bhagwan Parte, succumbed to Covid in mid May and Suyash has been looking after his widowed mother, ailing grandmother and three-year-old sister. “Now that the exam results are out, I can apply for a job in the police department in my father’s position,” said Suyash, adding that he would have to opt for a gap year in his education for undergoing police training. If he gets the job, the next problem is commuting from his residence in New Panvel to police stations in Mumbai. The Partes are hoping they would be allotted a room in any police colony in Mumbai. “Apartment rents in Mumbai are way beyond our budget,” said Parte’s wife, Pratiksha, whose daughter keeps asking when will Covid end so that “daddy can return home.” Parte had joined the force at the tender age of 15 when his father, also a police constable, died of an ailment.
The state government has approved another Rs 18.5 crore to 37 families but the Partes are among the very few who have actually received the sum. At Vikhroli’s Tagore Nagar, Akash Chaudhari has been grappling with worries about his family’s future. Akash, the son of deceased head constable Ganesh Chaudhari, holds an engineering degree but is yet to land a job. If the Mumbai Police department places him, he would have to work as a constable. But Akash wants them to consider his education and offer him an officer’s position. “ My older brother used to run a coaching class which had to be shut due to the pandemic. We are living in police quarters at Vikhroli which we would have to vacate in May 2021 when my father would have retired,” Akash said. Even today, his mother often cooks for his father and irons his uniform, forgetting that he is no more.
Families of the deceased frontline fighters wish the process to seek compensation was simpler. When assistant inspector Murlidhar Waghmare, 57, succumbed to COVID, his son, Sharad, had to seek help from Waghmare’s colleagues for putting together the documentation. “All formalities have to be completed in writing and processing of claims takes a long time. It’s high time the process went online,” Sharad said.
Waghmare had come to Mumbai from Sangli at the age of 19. He died on May 12, just 19 days before his retirement. It is suspected that he contracted Covid at work. “He had been assigned the task of accompanying civic staffers to track down those who werent following home quarantine and get them admitted to an institution,” said a colleague. The police commissioner had issued orders on April 28 granting mandatory leave for cops above 55 years of age. But Waghmare, who was a diabetic and had had two heart attacks in the past, was given mandatory leave only on May 5. “My father struggled all his life. I have been preparing for civil services exams and wanted to make him proud by becoming an IAS officer. His death has created a void in my life,” Sharad said.
At Ghatkopar, deceased constable Bhivsen Pingle’s family are keen to move out of their crammed chawl. Their concern is understandable as Pingle’s seniors in the traffic branch believe that he contracted the virus infection in the same chawl. “We are keen to shift to another location where social distancing will be possible,” said Pingle’s son, Ajit, 22. “Our uncle lives in Navi Mumbai and we are trying to find a house there which will fit in our budget. My sister and I are also looking for a job,” said Ajit, adding that they did not have to worry about earning until now.