Normally, police face challenges from criminals. But the year 2020 threw up tests to police in the form of COVID-19 pandemic from third month, followed by floods due to heavy rains in State capital six months later.
While floods and rains killed 33 in and around Hyderabad, close to 1,500 lives were lost to coronavirus. In Hyderabad police alone, 3,000 policemen contracted COVID-19. Thirty-nine of them died.
Attending to COVID-19-related duties like security arrangements and rescuing citizens trapped in inundated areas apart, they had to carry out their prime responsibility of preventing and detecting crime. Road accident figures dipped, apparently due to lock-down for consecutive three months.
Despite the decline, the road accident death numbers are still frightening. Left wing extremism, once a serious law and order problem in Telangana, was almost wiped out. With no instances of their movement for past few years, many believed so. Suddenly, there is a spurt of the outlawed CPI(Maoist) albeit in northern districts of the State like Kumram Bheem Asifabad, Bhadradri Kothagudem, Mulugu and Jayashankar Bhupalpally.
Alerts about their presence came in March and April. Alarmed by the situation, DGP M. Mahender Reddy flew to those areas in July and had strategic meetings with the local police. Combing by special parties and Greyhound commandos was stepped up. Remote villages and interior forest areas of these districts witnessed intensified searches for next few weeks, with intermittent exchanges of fire between Maoists and police parties.
CPI(Maoist) Telangana State Committee member Adellu alias Bhaskar and his squad members escaped from police in some EoF incidents. In September, police gunned down eight Maoists, six in Bhadradri Kothagudem and two in Kumram Bheem Asifabad, in different EoF instances. In retaliation, Maoists killed a civilian closely associated with ruling TRS party in Venkatapuram of Bhadradri Kohtagudem. A few days later, two more Maoists died in an EoF with police in Mulugu district. This was followed by Maoists killing another civilian in Mallampalli of Mulugu district. The battle between police determined to check left wing extremists and Maoists desperate to regain their strength indicated that it is unlikely to end in near future. While this fight was at its peak in September in northern part of the State, a caste-pride murder in IT hub area of Gachibowli in city attracted wide attention. A youngster Hemanth Kumar was kidnapped and murdered allegedly by his wife’s family members and close relatives. Incidentally, the prime accused in a near similar heinous offence involving caste pride in Nalgonda, Maruthi Rao, ‘ended his life’ in Visya Bhavan in Hyderabad six months earlier.