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Corona warriors of Assam: the ACS officers

Devashish Sharma (2nd from left) of Assam Bhawan and Dr Neelakshi Choudhury (3rd from left) accompanied the patients from Mumbai to Guwahati.

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic hit our country, the civil servants of the nation have taken up the role of protecting, safeguarding, facilitating and helping the people of the country and also maintaining the law and order situation of our land. They are truly the steel frame of the nation.

Herein, we shall specifically pin point the relentless and self-less work done by the officers of the Assam Civil Services (ACS) during the pandemic, taking the garb of fearless and dedicated Corona warriors. Be it the young entrants who join as the Assistant Commissioners or the officers posted in the higher posts like Additional Deputy Commissioners or the Deputy Commissioners, everyone has come together in keeping Assam safe from the clutch of the novel coronavirus.

With the people travelling from other parts of the country into Assam, especially with the migrants issue emerging now, their work has become even more challenging. Right from monitoring the list of people entering the state, to ensuring that each person is screened at the medical centres and then sending them for institutional quarantine, it surely is a gargantuan task, requiring efficient planning and tireless effort.

Many of the young ACS officers are acting as nodal officers escorting the people to their respective districts. A young ACS officer named Kaustubh Roy who is posted in Kokrajhar district, has been leading from the front at the crucial entry point of Assam – the Srirampur Gate. Many other officers are stationed at the railway stations, with trains bringing stranded Assamese people back home. Several others are in charge of the screening centre at the Saru Xojai stadium and other institutional quarantine centres across the state, which sees hundreds of people being put on quarantine on a daily basis. Starting from issuing e-pass for intra-state travel, to ensuring shops and markets adhere to the new rules, to maintaining overall smooth functioning of the lockdown, the ACS officers have really proved that they are one of the many corona warriors along with the doctors, nurses and police personnel.

It is not only the ACS officers posted in the state who are working tirelessly, but mention needs to be made of the officers posted in the various Assam Bhawans in the other states who are coordinating the smooth evacuation of stranded Assamese people and sending them back home. A recent heart wrenching story is that of the selfless work done by Mr. Devashish Sharma, an ACS officer of the 1992 batch who escorted around 137 cancer and other critically ill patients from Mumbai to Guwahati, by road.

Mr. Sharma is posted as Joint Resident Commissioner in Assam Bhawan in Mumbai, and was the main person who planned and successfully executed the 2700 km long road journey of the patients. On the way, they met with several hurdles. On the second day as they were crossing Madhya Pradesh, one of the patients fainted. With the help of the health practitioner escorting them the patient was revived. Apart from that several patients faced extreme emotions from being homesick to sudden bouts of depression, as they were making this risky journey back home. In order to lighten up their mood, Mr. Sharma would at times play his guitar, music being the ultimate mood-lifter. Finally, they reached Assam safe and sound and the patients are being screened and appropriate arrangements are being made for their quarantine. Meanwhile, Mr. Sharma has already begun his journey back to Mumbai, to take control of his duties.

The civil services give people an apt platform to work for the society and make a difference in the lives of the downtrodden. Thus, it is extremely important that the officers work with integrity, empathy, honesty and utmost dedication as society’s smooth functioning and well being truly depends on them. The tireless efforts of the ACS officers on the ground in Assam during these tough times will surely motivate many other young minds of the state to join the prestigious services. The Gradient IAS team salutes such officers.

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