The second wave of the pandemic has hit India hard in recent weeks. In the last 24 hours, India reported 115,736 new COVID-19 cases along with 630 deaths as per the Union Health Ministry – making it the country’s highest daily tally so far. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has warned that this year coronavirus is spreading faster than it did in 2020.
In Indore, a major city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, a 35-year-old man was severely beaten on the road by two police officers for not wearing a mask properly. According to media reports, the man, named Krishna Keyer, is an auto-rickshaw driver and was on the way to the hospital to visit his father on the evening of 6 April.
Keyer’s mask had slipped down his nose, catching the attention of the cops, who stopped him and ordered him to go to the police station with them. When Keyer refused, he was beaten in the middle of a busy market road in Indore – a video of the beating has gone viral on social media. A child’s voice crying for his “papa (father)” can be heard in the background of the video.
Action has reportedly been taken against the two cops in Indore, but the details remain unclear.
This however, is not the first incident where Indian police officers have turned to unwarranted brutality in the enforcement of COVID protocols.
Just recently, a video of Mumbai police punishing non-mask wearers with roadside squat-walks under the scorching summer sun had gone viral on social media. At the time, several people had sternly advised the cops to do what they have been directed to do – collect fines and issue warnings to people flouting COVID rules.
“Face mask rule violators at Marine Drive in Mumbai being made to do a “Murga” walk as punishment by Mumbai Police” Received on my ‘SignalWonderbox.’ A common punishment in the boarding school I attended. Comical, but physically taxing.I certainly won’t forget my mask!! pic.twitter.com/GnVY6NfasV
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) March 30, 2021
Videos of similar incidents of police officials physically assaulting people over being careless about coronavirus-induced restrictions have been surfacing online across India.
For instance, this clip from Azamgarh, a city in Uttar Pradesh, shows police officials forcibly pushing a civilian into their jeep for not wearing a mask.
ये आज़मगढ़ की कल की तस्वीर है।
पुलिसवाले विकास दूबे जैसे किसी दुर्दांत अपराधी को अपनी गाड़ी में नहीं ठूँस रहे बल्कि एक व्यापारी को ठूँस रहे हैं। क्यों? क्योंकि उसने मास्क नहीं पहना था।
कोरोना कंट्रोल का ऐसा विजुअल तो वुहान से भी नहीं आया था! pic.twitter.com/Gud6OJ2f0W
— Umashankar Singh उमाशंकर सिंह (@umashankarsingh) April 7, 2021
Public opinion in India is turning against law enforcement, as such instances demonstrate how Indian cops abuse the power that comes with their Khaki uniforms.
This is not acceptable. First, it seems he is not criminal and if he is then there should be some protocol to interrogation. This will only create a untrust and hate for police in citizens. https://t.co/OgyI0XN933
— rakendu pandey (@pandey_rakendu) April 7, 2021
With due respect, the police officer has no business meting out punishment , when there is provision for a fine.
In case the persons can’t pay the fine, there’s provision to lock up the defaulters.
— thakursahab (@65thakursahab) March 31, 2021
Police don’t have the authority to prosecute and define punishment. Courts can only do that. No one should be humiliated publicly. It’s a clear violation of human rights. This cop should be suspended immediately and punished for misusing his authorities.
— TechSolvePrac (@PracSolve) March 31, 2021