P V Rama Sastry, Additional Director-General, Law and Order, of Uttar Pradesh Police
Additional Director-General, Law and Order, of Uttar Pradesh Police P V Rama Sastry is in charge of implementing the lockdown in India’s most populous state. He speaks to The Indian Express on the challenges of maintaining essential supplies along with managing an effective lockdown. Excerpts:
There are reports that police are obstructing supply of essentials. From doctors to journalists, and paramedics to delivery boys, they have all reported being harassed by the police. Vegetable and fruit kiosks are apparently being shut down. Have clear instructions not been given?
The district administration and the police are working out an effective (curfew) pass system and home delivery of services to avoid confusion and achieve the desired objectives of lockdown. Men on ground have been extensively briefed and sector scheme has been started where gazetted officers move constantly in their sectors to supervise duties. That has helped reduce unwarranted difficulties to essential service providers to the maximum extent; no serious complaints of misbehavior have been reported.
Still, if there are some stray incidents of the last man standing not having understood the instructions, people can approach the control room and get quick redress.
The lockdown announced is unprecedented. How is UP Police managing in such a complex state?
The lockdown is being implemented by the administration and the police in close coordination as per statutory instructions issued through government orders under Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act. The district formations have been thoroughly briefed and the work on ground is being constantly monitored at all supervisory levels.
As far as managing a big state is concerned, yes, the challenges are complex, but in the past UP Police has managed difficult situations and this time also we are confident of delivering the results.
How are state boundaries being managed given that UP shares borders with multiple states, and even the internal border with Nepal?
Close regulation of movement at the international border started more than a month ago, and it is being controlled effectively. Interstate movement has been totally stopped now except for only certain essential goods and cargo-carrying trucks. The challenge is to maintain uninterrupted supply of essential goods and yet maintain an effective lockdown. Accordingly, districts with inter-state borders are having constant coordination through their respective control rooms to manage any contingencies.
Many people, especially the poor, are trying to return to their villages on foot from places such as Delhi. How is this being managed?
There is constant inter-border dialogue to ensure that people stay where they are, and avail the support services offered by the local administration concerned. There was some movement for two days, but now it is not there.
How is the chief minister’s promised delivery at doorstep being ensured?
A group of senior officers reporting to the Agriculture Production Commissioner are working constantly to ensure a smooth supply chain management. More than 13,000 mobile units have so far been identified and more will join. The police are providing assistance to the efforts.