Several instances of police officials allegedly punishing or assaulting people out on streets, or tipping over vegetable carts, have emerged from several states during the first two days of the 21-day lockdown.
India entered the third day of the lockdown on Friday, which is an attempt to contain the spreading Covid-19 infection. The pandemic has killed 17 people in the country, and infected 724 people. Of these, 640 people are receiving treatment in various facilities. The lockdown exempts essential commodities, including groceries and pharmacies.
The Patna Police in Bihar arrested three police officials for shooting at a driver of a vehicle carrying potatoes, and demanding a bribe of Rs 5,000, reported The Indian Express. The driver, Sonu Sah, was ferrying the vegetable from the riverine belt to Danapur town. He was shot in the leg after an altercation with the police constables.
Sah was admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital, and the three police constables were booked for attempt to murder and extortion.
In central Delhi’s Ranjit Nagar area, a police constable was seen overturning vegetable carts, and bullying the sellers for violating lockdown guidelines. The constable, identified as Rajbir, was suspended on Thursday after the video started doing the rounds on social media, reported NDTV.
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A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, on Friday asked the police to “break the legs” of those who violate curbs imposed under the lockdown, IANS reported. “Such people should be treated like anti-nationals,” Nand Kishore Gurjar said in a video being widely circulated on social media. “If they are not following government orders, they are terrorists.” He added that every constable will be rewarded a sum of Rs 5,100 for following his orders.
Meanwhile the police in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday apologised after a video of an official, making people crawl as punishment for being out during lockdown in Budaun town, began doing the rounds. “Being the police chief of the district, I feel sorry and apologise for this,” Ashok Kumar Tripathi, senior superintendent of police, Budaun said, according to ANI. Tripathi said an inquiry had been initiated against the official involved.
In Andhra Pradesh, a police constable was suspended after a video of him caning men was shared on social media. In the video, the official can also be seen brandishing his cane at a woman and threatening her to move away. However, the exact location of the incident was not immediately known. State Home Minister Mekathoti Sucharitha responded to the video, and informed that the constable has been suspended.
In Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain, a station house officer was suspended after he threatened to “shoot down” anyone who defied the prohibitory orders of the lockdown “in seven seconds”, News18 reported.
The police constable, identified as Sanjay Verma, on Thursday made the threat in a message he posted on WhatsApp. “People should remain indoors, else I would shoot them dead. I am a sharp shooter and would take barely seven seconds to shoot anyone down,” he reportedly said, adding that people may get upset momentarily but would later thank him for his deed.
In Assam, Congress leader Debabrata Saikia on Thursday wrote to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on alleged police atrocities, reported the Hindustan Times. Saikia highlighted several news reports and videos that purportedly showed police personnel assaulting and harassing people who were out during the nationwide lockdown.
Saikia pointed out that the Centre and states had allowed people to go out in small numbers. “Unfortunately many personnel of the Assam Police are displaying a tendency to beat up and/or humiliate people first and ask questions later,” the letter read. “Even a national emergency cannot justify such blatant violation of a civilian’s basic human right of living with dignity. If anyone is found to be loitering in the streets without due cause, then that person should be booked and the courts of law should be allowed to penalise him.”