COVID-19 India: This is how local police punish anyone who violates nation’s 21-day lockdown
|National Post 26 Mar 2020 at 11:53|
As day two of India’s 21-day lockdown comes to a close, local police are pulling out all the stops to drive home the importance of staying home and social distancing.
Videos of officers forcing people to do squats, sit-ups, push ups, and in some situations, violently cane those who flout the restrictions have been circulating on social media this week, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a three-week ban on going outside in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Ingenious punishment for breaking lockdown in india.
This years Oscar goes to indian police. #lockdownuk #21daysLockdown pic.twitter.com/e9zh7J0sUQ
“When you go out in Lockdown This treatment we are getting from Police in India .. Stay home stay Safe,” tweeted a user, along with a video of a policeman verbally confronting a person outside, before hitting him with a stick.
When you go out in Lockdown This treatment we are getting from Police in India.. Stay home stay Safe. pic.twitter.com/ehbO4FQlc2
Despite the ban, hundreds of people flocked to the markets in major Indian cities — Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai — and were seen lining up close to each other or huddling in crowds to inspect the quality of fruits and vegetables available to buy from vendors.
Indian shopkeepers and customers haggle over the prices of fruits and vegetables in a crowded Mandi (market place), as nationwide lockdown continues over highly contagious novel coronavirus on March 26, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
People have also continued to socialize in public spaces and share rides in cars, motorcycles, despite officials warnings to practice social distancing. Consequently, police in some states have also turned to drawing chalk circles on pavements, each two metres apart, and ordering people to stand in them when waiting in lines. In one video, an official made a man draw a line of circles with chalk.
The different tactics employed by authorities have drawn both praise and criticism from the public. Many have praised the police for devising creative ways of punishing those who continue to go out despite the restrictions. However others have condemned them for using “brutality” against residents, calling their actions “a clear violation of human rights”.
The execution of the ban, which was announced on Tuesday, has also received from criticism from the public, with questions as to how those in living in slums and other lower-income areas will be able to provide for themselves and their family during the lockdown. Social media users have also commented on the unfairness of police violently punishing people leaving their homes to stock up for the lockdown.
According to Modi, the nationwide ban will go on till March 30, in the hopes of halting any community spread of COVID-19. Only essential services such as water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries and municipal services will be allowed to operate.
All shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship will remain closed and interstate buses and metros will be suspended.
“According to health experts, a minimum of 21 days is most crucial to break the cycle of infection. If we are not able to manage this pandemic in the next 21 days, the country and your family will be setback by 21 years. If we are not able to manage the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever,’ Modi said.
Currently, India has reported 718 confirmed cases and 14 deaths from the virus. However, medical officials fear that that the level of poverty, cramped living conditions, exhausted healthcare could cause a rampant spread of the virus into communities, potentially killing hundreds, as in Italy and China.
Our most powerful weapon is that we know what it is and we can learn from people who have already suffered through it
Looking back at how politicians reacted, how the public felt and what was normal just a week ago makes the change even more abrupt
We may dodge a big bullet here. ... But we may well end up in a situation where we have to make some very tough ethical decisions