The Lucknow Municipal Corporation in Uttar Pradesh has defended its actions after a video emerged on social media showing a municipal worker in protective gear spraying a boy outside Charbagh Railway Station with a bleach-and-water disinfectant, NDTV reported on Thursday. Such a disinfectant is meant only for surfaces and is not supposed to be used on human beings.

An unidentified individual shot the clip on a mobile phone on Wednesday. While the boy is being doused with the disinfectant, a woman shouts, “He will get wet!”. Some other individuals look on.

But Lucknow Municipal Commissioner Indramani Tripathi claimed that the bleach-and-water solution was being used to sanitise buses. “The process of sanitisation of buses was on,” she said. “The hosepipe was full and when our workers were moving from one bus to the other, some labourers came in the way. It was unintentional.”

However, Tripathi added that the two workers who doused the boy in the solution have been sacked, because they committed a “mistake”. She claimed that the corporation had been sanitising buses for a month in this manner, but no such incident had been reported earlier.

A similar incident took place in Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh in March, when migrants returning to the district were made to sit in a group and sprayed with bleach. A video showed two people dressed in full protective gear spraying a group, including children, who were squatting on the road.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had said on March 30 that the incident was “an overzealous employee acting out of fear or ignorance”. It had asserted that action was taken “at the highest level” after the incident came to light.

A nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 to combat the coronavirus pandemic has been extended till May 17. As a result, local authorities throughout the country have been sanitising public transport and other public utilities to prevent the spread of the virus.

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