Kolkata cops croon ‘We shall overcome’ to cheer up citizens

Kolkata: Not relying solely on batons and threats to make people obey the lockdown norms, the Kolkata Police is displaying its softer side by singing popular songs, including the evergreen ‘We shall overcome’, to cheer up residents and spread awareness about the coronavirus infection.

“Men from South Kolkata’s Gariahat police station visited the Ekdalia-Mandeville Gardens area and sung the iconic song – considered the anthem of the US, and global civil rights movement – while egging on the citizens confined in the high-rises, single storey houses and slums to lend their voices.

Personnel from the Entally police station in Central Kolkata also performed the song in another ‘roadside concert’ in their area.

The cops took all hygienic precautions — wore masks, held mikes in gloved hands and maintained social distancing as they moved around. The moment they started crooning, windows opened, people come out to the balconies with their mobile flashlights on in solidarity, and captured videos and photos.

Considering the cosmopolitan nature of the areas, the cops rendered ‘We shall overcome’ in three languages – English, Hindi and Bengali – simultaneously clapping with many residents joining in.

Going a step further, the Gariahat police station personnel performed an improvised version of chart-buster Bengali number Bela Bose, recorded by celebrated singer-filmmaker Anjan Dutt in 1994.

The soulful song speaks of a youth’s attempts to reach out to his sweetheart Bela Bose over her phone to pass on the message that he has got a job and now there were no more hurdles in their union.

A group of cops tailored the song to suit the present situation where people all over India, are ‘crying in lockdown’.

“The lyrics were changed at the police station itself by including words of hope and comfort for the people in these trying times,” Gariahat police station officer-in-charge Soumya Banerjee, one of the lead singers, said.

In its new avatar, the song lists out the health norms one needs to follow, and stresses importance of staying in the safety of home, while blaring out the coronavirus helpline number.

“The atmosphere all around is morbid and negative. Even at home, I see people depressed. So we wanted to give a positive message to the people,” said Banerjee. The songs selected are well-known, easy to sing and can be performed in chorus.

“I felt very emotional and nostalgic on seeing the police personnel perform the songs in these hard times. Kudos to them,” said Partha Ghosh, a Gariahat resident.

But do the cops have plans to take their musical concert to all lanes and bylanes?

“Can’t say right now. We are now tied up with so many things. We have arranged to feed so many destitute daily, have housed street dwellers. The cooking for them is being done in the police mess. We are also supervising distribution of food to street dogs.

“We are also arranging for emergency gas refill, medicines for the large number of senior citizens in our ara. If someone needs an emergency dialysis, for that also we are arranging ambulance,” Banerjee said.