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India: Covid-19: Cops beat up bank employee, delivery boys and even a fire fighter!

Sunday 29 March 2020, by siawi3

Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/covid-19-cops-beat-bank-employee-delivery-boys-and-even-fire-fighter

Health Rule of Law
Covid-19: Cops beat up bank employee, delivery boys and even a fire fighter!

The haphazard way of announcing the nationwide lockdown may have given local lower level cops a virtual carte blance to physically assault anyone on the street.

Sanchita Kadam

27 Mar 2020

With the entire country under lockdown the Central as well as many state governments are making their best efforts to ensure that essential services remain available for the public at all times. This means ensuring that shops selling groceries, fruits, vegetables, dairy, medicines remain open and get their supplies, uninterrupted. Hence, many states have started the practice of issuing an “Essential services card” to ensure that these services carry on unperturbed and it is easy for the police as well to identify them and let them pass.

The government has also identified home delivery of essential items through online retailers and also of medicines now, by a person holding a proper license for the same. In the initial days of the lockdown though, people employed in essential services, for whom reaching their place of work was important, such as banks or other government services as also delivery persons who need to deliver essential goods to people’s homes have faced some serious hardships in their encounters with the police.

In what was perhaps the most shocking case, a fire fighter was beaten up by an Assistant Sub-Inspector in Amritsar on Thursday. The Tribune reported that after Naresh Sharma who works for the fire brigade and was on his way to work was beaten up by ASI Tarsem Singh, fire fighters held a protest by taking fire tenders to the Gate Hakima police station. They demanded that the ASI be suspended immediately and a case be registered against him. The Gate Hakima police have written to the Police Commissioner recommending immediate suspension of the ASI.

Earlier on March 24, Bank of Baroda Saphale Branch in Navi Mumbai described the incident in a letter to the District Manager of the Bank. The bank’s employee was intercepted on his way from his home to work by police personnel and despite of showing them hi ID card was beaten up by them.

On March 26, a Delhi cop was suspended after a video of him targeting vegetable and fruit vendors by over turning their carts went viral on social media.

Delivery persons of many e-tailers such as BigBasket, FreshMenu and Portea have faced issues with the police while making deliveries of essential items. K Ganesh, promoter of online platforms like BigBasket, FreshMenu and Portea Medical, said that over the last few days, policemen have abused, assaulted and in one case even arrested a delivery agent leading to huge disruption in their activities. “The cop there does not know that it’s an essential service, he has no mechanism to allow and disallow somebody. In many cases, they are being harsh, they are beating up people. In Kerala, one of our health workers going to service a patient was arrested,” he said.

Grofers, the online grocery store also voiced the same concern. The founder of Grofers, Saurabh Kumar, posted a tweet saying they were being forced to shut down their warehouses and that their trucks and delivery persons were being stopped by the police, hence hindering their service to their customers.

Another e-tailer, FreshToHome which delivers meat and related products, posted a similartweet.

A milk delivery service called Milk Basket also faced many hurdles in their delivery and issued a statement to their customers stating that they had to dump 15,000 litres of milk and 10,000 kgs of vegetables as they were denied entry in places like Noida, Gurgaon and Hyderabad. The statement also said that their delivery agents were continually harassed by the police personnel for being on the road.

Evidently, it was necessary to sensitize and educate cops on what amounts to essential services and how the people who are actually risking their lives and making a living by doing their job should be dealt with. Without the availability and delivery of such essential services and goods, daily life will come to a standstill leading to utter chaos. Hence, treating them in such an abhorrent manner will only scare them away eventually bringing such essential services to a halt.