Policing the streets: Indian athletes go above and beyond during lockdown
You might have seen them inside sporting arenas, bringing their best to the forefront every time it matters. But for some of India’s sporting heroes, the call for duty doesn’t end at the end of the competition.
The COVID-19 pandemic that has engulfed the world has seen some of India’s sports stars step out onto the streets in various capacities to help the country fight the threat.
Leading this line is the former Commonwealth Games boxing gold medallist Akhil Kumar. The 38-year-old is the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) - Traffic in the Gurugram region of Haryana and has been actively involved in ensuring that lockdown protocols are followed without any hiccups.
“People are generally cooperative and in any case, essential services are being kept open so there is not much panic. I believe only strict enforcement of lockdown will be able to halt this virus. People are slowly understanding this," Akhil Kumar told the Press Trust of India.
On patrol duty
Apart from his duty, the two-time Olympian and Arjuna awardee has also been contributing to help buy sanitizers and essential food items for the underprivileged along with the other officers in the force.
One of the officers includes another from the Indian boxing hall of fame, the former bronze Asian bronze-medallist Jitender Kumar. The 31-year-old who also represented India at Beijing 2008 is posted in Rewari and has been working long hours for the past few days. And all he was expecting from the citizens was for them to stay indoors.
“We are trying our best. Those who can afford to stay inside can and must but some cannot. Our effort is to ensure that we reach out to as many of such people as possible,” said Jitender Kumar.
Others making their contribution in police uniform include kabaddi player Ajay Thakur, a 2014 Asian Games gold-medallist, an Arjuna awardee and a Padma Shri recipient. A deputy superintendent of police (DSP) in the Himachal Pradesh Police and in service since 2017, Ajay Thakur was seen patrolling the streets of Bilaspur in the state of Chhattisgarh.
Sunil Chhetri Breaking the chain
While Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar and Ajay Thakur have been on streets as a part of the police force, the former Indian hockey team’s drag-flicker Sandeep Singh is putting his minister’s office to good use in reaching out to people in need of help.
Sandeep aka ‘flicker Singh’ is the sports minister of Haryana and he has been involved in ensuring that essentials items are delivered to every part of the State without much delay.
Meanwhile, the captain of the Indian football team Sunil Chhetri joined the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) #BreakTheChain campaign that aims at ‘encouraging people not only to adopt the best hygiene practises but also inspires hope and solidarity in these challenging times.’
“Everyone is struggling in these challenging times,” Sunil Chhetri said. “Let’s work together – as a team – to break the chain and stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Hima Das, sports minister pledge support
The nation’s ace track and field athlete Hima Das and the Indian sports minister Kiren Rijiju have joined the list of sporting personalities to pledge support to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
While the 20-year-old Hima Das mentioned on her Twitter page that she would contribute her one month’s salary towards fighting the pandemic, the sports minister took to the micro-blogging website to announce that he would contribute Rs 1 crore to the cause.
This comes after the likes of Bajrang Punia, PV Sindhu and Sania Mirza announced that they would be donating to raise funds for daily wage workers who have been left jobless after a 21-day lockdown was announced across the country on March 24.