Started as a pilot project in Amritsar Rural district by Vikramjeet Duggal, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) on the order of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. The VPOs are being appointed across the state and will be roped in to spread the awareness campaign in all the districts soon, said DGP Dinkar Gupta here on Thursday.
In Amritsar Rural, a total of 550 villages have already been covered physically in the past four days, with the remaining to be reached out to in the next 2-3 days, said the DGP. A whopping 889 VPOs are on the ground, making rounds of their allotted villages to conduct meetings with the village Sarpanches, School Headmasters, village Granthis, Village watchmen, Households, Youth etc, to spread awareness for prevention of spread of COVID-19.
The VPOs have been trained and tasked to educate people in their respective villages about the disease and the necessary precautions to prevent its spread, and to bust any myths and misconceptions about it. They have been briefed by the District Police Chiefs to coordinate and liaise with the local civil administration and Health Department to ensure effective implementation of the government’s instructions and advisories on COVID-19 by all the people at the local level, said the DGP.
With the help of the village youth, the VPOs are using the social media in a big way to disseminate the government’s directives down to every household in the respective area. The citizens are being guided to strictly maintain Social Distancing to further prevent the spread of COVID-19. The VPOs are also requesting the local people to keep gatherings under 50 as per the government’s guidelines to check the spread of the pandemic.
To quell rumours on social media, the VPOs are advising the citizens to either check with the health department or police to verify the veracity of the posts. They are also warning citizens, as a note of caution, that strict action will be taken against those spreading fake news on Corona virus. The police officers are further requesting the citizens to desist from forwarding unverified information or images on COVID-19.
According to the DGP, public response to the initiative has been overwhelming, with youth in particular coming forward in large numbers for the last 3-4 days to help their respective VPOs in making the door to door campaign a success. This initiative by the Punjab Police will go a long way towards assisting various stakeholders in keeping a 24×7 vigil for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives, he said.
‘One Village One Cop’ Scheme, is aimed at bringing policepersons closer to the citizens. It involves earmarking of designated Village Police Officers (VPO), in the rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector/Head Constable/Constable, for each of the 12,700 villages of the State. Their job is to gather information about the criminals, including their activities and whereabouts, criminals missing from the village etc, sale/distribution of drugs in the village etc.