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Fighting the Covid War in Malegaon

The doctor turned IPS officer Dr. Arti Singh is the first and only woman SP to have been posted in Malegaon. During her tenure there, she went out of her way to help the people during the pandemic. Her efforts helped check the spread of the virus to a large extent and came to be known as the Malegaon model.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit India and the entire nation went under lockdown, there were still hundreds of people who were going to their jobs daily. They were the doctors and the police personnel of our country, who put their lives at stake to protect others.

One such officer is Dr. Arti Singh, the first woman police commissioner of India, who not only used her powers as an IPS officer but also her skills as a doctor, to bring relief to the people in such trying times. 

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, the officer shared details about her Covid work while she was posted in Malegaon in Maharashtra, that has won her many awards.

MALEGAON UNDER THREAT

When the nation went under lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, Dr. Singh was posted as the Superintendent of Police in Nashik (Rural). The city of Malegaon, which falls under the Nashik district, was highly vulnerable owing to its dense population.

Also called the textile town of Maharashtra, Malegaon is one of the most densely populated regions in the entire world, with over 1 lakh people residing per every square kilometer. Moreover, it is a highly sensitive area due to communal tensions and the heavy influence of religious leaders.

“There was a double threat looming over the town – the rapidly spreading virus, and the blind superstitions that religious leaders and anti-government elements were feeding the citizens. We had to take care of the situation in a sensitive manner,” Dr. Singh shared with Indian Masterminds.

Dr. Singh talking to religious leaders of Malegaon

ENCOURAGING HER FORCE

The entire Coronavirus debacle was so new at that time that nobody could understand how to deal with the situation. This was the first time that the country was experiencing such a deadly virus that everything went under lockdown, and nobody was allowed to leave their home.

Although the police force kept a brave stance, somewhere in their hearts and minds, they were also scared and panicky about the situation and its management. 

“We had no idea how to deal with it because that was a time when even the doctors couldn’t understand the virus and its treatment. With all the chaos and confusion, I had dual challenges – to convince the public that the implementation of lockdown is for their good and to boost the morale of my force and encourage them to fight this invisible enemy,” the officer said.

Without thinking twice, she left her headquarters and went to camp in the populated Malegaon town for two months to curb the Covid situation while maintaining law and order and motivating her force, who felt encouraged seeing their senior official beside them to work at the grassroots level. 

Standing strong with her force

USING HER MEDICAL SKILLS

Dr. Singh has mastered not only policing but also the medical field. Being a doctor, she made people understand the importance of following Covid norms, wearing masks and gloves, using face shields, washing hands, and keeping themselves and their surroundings clean.

She spread awareness regarding the symptoms of the virus and the medicines that can be consumed. She made sure people stayed indoors and tried explaining the grim reality as a doctor rather than an IPS officer. Further, she also tried curbing the menace of WhatsApp forwards and TikTok videos that indulged in threatening religious harmony.

Distributing ration during the pandemic

THE MALEGAON MODEL

Another notable work that the officer did was to restart the textile looms of Malegaon, which were responsible for the employment and livelihoods of hundreds of people.

Raw materials for the mill came from South India and once the processing was done in Malegaon, the finished products were transported to Gujarat and Rajasthan. The officer spoke to the chief ministers of both the states and ensured the movement began again.

Owing to Dr. Singh’s efforts, Malegaon saw a recovery rate of 82 per cent and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) asked the state government to study the ‘Malegaon model’. 

The senior IPS officer has received numerous awards for her work during the Covid-19 pandemic from various organizations and the government.

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